At once masculine and feminine, friendly and formal, and chic and sexy, Halston perfume for women embodies the mixed-crowd ethos of the Studio 54 denizens who wore it. Steve Rubell, co-owner of the legendary late 70s/early 80s discotheque, was famous for letting beautiful unknowns past the velvet ropes to hobnob with the celebrities who had debaucherous fun there: Jack, Angelica, Andy, Bianca, Liz, Liza, Calvin, Brooke (Astor and Shields), et al.
Like the nightclub its namesake helped make famous, Halston perfume is less interested in who comes to its party than that everyone, because they look like they’re having fun, looks beautiful.
Green, fruity, floral, fresh, spiced, mossy and woody (talk about a mixed crowd!), Halston for women typifies late 70s fashion when simplicity — thanks, in part, to Roy Halston — was chic. Its somewhat austere green/mossy/chypre soul has done a bump of coke and decided to put on some lipgloss, a slinky Halston column dress**, and dance the night away.
Top notes: Tagetes (marigold), green notes, spearmint, peach, bergamot
Heart notes: Jasmine, cedarwood, rose, carnation, orris, ylang-ylang
Base notes: Moss, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, olibanum (frankincense), musk, amber
The chypre category, like the ideal 70s woman, is on the verge of androgyny. Flanked by bitter, herbaceous green and mint on one side and woods and oakmoss on the other, the “feminine” fruit-floral peach-rose-jasmine heart of Halston is like a woman’s body in one of those fabulous "Le Smoking" suits YSL made for women in the 70s. Hours into Halston's dry down, I smell an artifact of the past: a whiff of the powdery DoubleMint gum wrapper, sweetly scenting Halston with its mint and refreshing its base of resins, moss, woods and warm amber.
Even the famous Halston bottle has a chic lineage. Designed by Elsa Peretti, model-turned-interior designer-turned-jewelry-designer for Tiffany’s in the 70s, the biomorphic bottle is modern in its stark simplicity and soft with its curves. (Like her famous tear-drop-heart necklace and thumb-print ring.)
There was a time when Halston was the second top-selling perfume in history, next to “le monstre” Chanel No. 5. Sniff out some vintage***, and you’ll know why. Rachel Zoe and Nicole Richie are doing everything they can to bring 70s Halston-esque clothes back, maybe I should try to bring back Halston the perfume, circa 1975. This weekend…
* This Carina Chocano quote is from an interesting Salon.com book review that situates Roy Halston Frowick’s place in history and discusses his influence on Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, and Narciso Rodriguez.
** There are so many cool blogs that have curated images of Halston and his models and designs. Here’s one, here’s another, and here's yet another. And here are some NYTimes articles on Halston's legacy: here and here. Interesting fact: Halston was a milliner before he was a designer, and designed Jackie O’s famous pillbox hat she wore to her husband’s 1961 presidential inauguration.
***A while back, I bid on some Halston that had been described as vintage perfume. It was anything but, and immediately smelled cheap and weird to me. Your best bet is to get the glass bottle with the glass stopper (rather than the sprays, which are probably going to be reformulations). Or, you can do as I did and get an adorable mini with a tiny screw top from The Miniature Perfume Shoppe. That little guy is definitely a vintage perfume.