What is the spark that ignites or sustains creative genius?
For the fashion designer Halston, whose story is now streaming
on Netflix starring Ewan McGregor in the title role, he needed to be surrounded by luminous sensual orchids.
In fact, when funds were tight during his early days, his assistant tells him to cut down on orchids to save money for the firm. He dismissively replied, that no, that would be impossible. Why? Because the orchids were “part of my process.”
As he was honing the minimalist style that would make him world-famous, the orchids centered him. Plus, their lack of scent didn’t distract him from creating his innovative designs using cashmere and Ultrasuede that had the design world panting in awe of his every move.
“Orchids were all over his place, both at home and in the office,” says Halston biographer Steven Gaines, whose book the Netflix series referenced. “Back then, orchids were really expensive and not plentiful. Only the rich could afford them.”
As the Cut reported, Halston would spend over $100,000 a year for these rare prized flowers.
The flair he used to put them in pots all over his residences inspired a trend that exists today as so many contemporary homes have large orchids scattered on hallway consoles and living room cocktail tables.
Halston would get his prized flowers from floral designer Renny Reynolds, of Renny & Reed in New York City and Palm Beach. Reynolds told Vogue that the designer had a “burgundy Gae Aluenti table that he would pile up with white phalaenopsis orchids.”
Interior decorator Jeffrey Bilhuber added that Halston made orchids “seem not a rarity but a necessity. They looked just amazing – sensuous without being romantic, and floral without being flowery.”
“He also always had votives all over,” recalls Gaines. “Like much about him, he went overboard.”
Director Mark Minahan was attracted to the Halston story because the designer, born Roy Halston Frowick, “taught people how to brand and market themselves. He was the first celebrity designer in America.”
The Netflix series shows how Halston leveraged his single, invented name into a worldwide fashion empire that’s synonymous with luxury, sex, status and fame, literally defining the era he lived in – 1970’s and ‘80’s New York — until a hostile takeover forces him to battle for control of his most precious asset – the name Halston itself. In fact, he started out creating Jackie Kennedy’s famous pillbox hat and then transitioned to women’s clothing and started a ready-to-wear line.