The Observer today tells the sad tale of a once illustrious fashion house that seems to be un-saveable.
In high school, before my obsession with fashion was fully realized, I associated Halston with bad JCPenney fashion. That’s because in the ’80s, the brand’s execs licensed the Halston name to JCPenney — the bane of my existence as a teenage girl who wanted to shop at the much hipper (in my mind for whatever reason) Express and Deb Shop (be nice, I grew up in a tiny town!). Later I realized how unfortunate my JCPenney – Halston association was. Here was this iconic, revolutionary designer who created some of the most glamorous, boho-chic dresses for the likes of Bianca Jagger and Princess Grace, and meanwhile I had been pooh-poohing him as a bargain store brand.
Such is sometimes the fate of poorly-placed licensing. But in 2007, Harvey Weinstein, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel Zoe (who left early on), Tamara Mellon and a few other bigwigs, many of whom had actual clout in the industry, seemed to be trying to turn the company around with attention to the clothes rather than licensing. But, according to today’s exhaustive story in The Observer, apparent mis-management and over-spending on certain celebrity’s salaries has rendered the effort a failure. SJP, Weinstein, and most of those who came on with him are now gone.
Quoth The Observer:
Mr. Leone, now the vice president of brand relations at Gilt Groupe, doesn’t have high hopes for the line’s future. “The brand itself invokes such unbelievable fondness,” he said, “but if Harvey Weinstein, Tamara Mellon, Rachel Zoe and Sarah Jessica Parker can’t do it, who can?”
For me, a name came immediately to mind: Ms. Zoe! Am I right? She routinely expresses her love of the first iteration of the fashion house on her TV show. But she was already involved in one failed attempt at a resurrection, which she smartly and quickly fled. Plus her love of the original ’70s designs might make her unwilling to be part of a newfangled effort.
And anyway, under control of Hilco Consumer Capital, a venture firm that owns most of Halston, the brand is returning to its old approach: the company has brought on a licensing guru to help save the day. Let’s just hope we don’t see Halston at JCPenney anytime soon.