Roy Halston Frowick was born in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, on 23rd April 1932. He attended the University of Indiana and the Chicago Institute. While still studying, he was designing and selling hats.
In 1953, he opened a millinery salon in a Chicago hotel, where his clientele included film actresses Gloria Swanson and Deborah Kerr. He trained briefly with Charles James, the great fashion designer. In 1958, he joined LILLY DACHE in New York, moving shortly after to the millinery salon of Bergdorf Goodman's New York department store. Halston designed hats for Jacqueline Kennedy including a beige felt pillbox that was widely copied. She wore many pillbox hats with the dresses which Oleg Cassini designed for her.
In 1966, Halston began designing ready-to-wear garments, leaving Bergdorf Goodman to open his own business. Halston Ltd., was founded in 1968 on Madison Avenue, New York. During the late 60's and early 70's Halston established a reputation as a designer of knitwear, sweaters and wide legged jersey trousers. He also made turtlenecks, long slinky halter-neck dresses, cashmere dresses for day and evening, sweater sets and boxy square jackets and coats. American socialites considered him the best evening wear designer. He also tie-dyed chiffon and used matte jersey in many of his collections. In 1972, he made a shirtwaister of Ultrasuede which inspired many imitations. Ultrasuede was considered to be a Halston trademark.
In the 60's, designer Stephen Sprouse worked at the house of Halston for 3 years.
In 1973, Norton Simon incorporated Halston's business for $ 12 million and named this new division of its conglomerate Halston Enterprises Inc. In 1978, he moved all his activities to the Olympic Towers Building, in Manhattan, New York.
His popularity in the 70's made him a social figure, most famously among the set that frequented New York's Disco named Studio 54. Bianca Jagger and Liza Minelli were friends and clients.
Halston was famous for his draped jersey dresses and lean trouser suits. He was very much inspired by classical Greek and Roman draping.
In 1983, Halston signed with J.C. Penney, the large department store, for a cheaper line, which caused many of his higher class clientele to leave him. In 1984, he attempted to regain ownership of his custom business and designer ready-to-wear but was unable to do so, and went out of business. He died on 26th March 1990 when only 58 years old.
In the year 2000, the city of New York decided to honour American fashion designers by placing bronze plaques along 7th Avenue, the great street of fashion in New York. This was called the "FASHION WALK OF FAME'. Halston was one of those honoured, and here is a picture of his plaque.
Various designers have looked after the house of Halston. Randolph Duke from 1997-1998, his assistant Kevan Hall 1998-1999, followed by Craig Natiello who left in November 2001.
Thai-born Piyawat joined Halston in April 2001. He was earlier with Anne Klein, Adrienne Vittadini and Vivienne Tam. When Craig Natiello left, he took over the design for Halston. He presented a successful Fall/Winter 2002 collection, followed by another for Spring/Summer 2003.