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Uncommon Scents

In the 1970s, gasoline wasn't the only precious fluid Americans lined up to buy. Now Halston's beloved signature scent is making a comeback.

Author Sarah Horne Photography Fred W. Mcdarrah


FASHION PLAY Halston and Elsa Peretti’s perfume bottles

IN THE DREARIEST HOURS of the 1970s, when oil prices were as high as the hemlines, Halston’s shirt dress made him the ultimate American sportswear designer. It was the embodiment of minimalism, but with a sexy wink—equal parts Jackie Kennedy and Bianca Jagger. Halston defined ’70s fashion in the same way that Andy Warhol (a friend of the designer’s) epitomized the art world, and his self-titled fragrance became the second-best-selling of all time.

In 1984, six years before his death, Roy Halston Frowick lost the right to his name—and his legacy. Money men swooped in to divide the spoils, resulting in an endless string of déclassé licensing deals. An unlikely hero arrived in the person of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who acquired the brand in 2007, leading to hopes that it would once again attire moneyed beauties and lend bankable stars that cool, decadent whiff of Studio 54.

Since its relaunch, Halston has been quietly gaining momentum. When the Spring 2010 collection debuts this month in New York under the creative direction of Marios Schwab, the front row will get a preview of Pure Metallic, Halston’s revamped fragrances for men and women, in platinum-finished versions of the bottles originally created by jewelry designer Elsa Peretti. And just like in the ’70s, a dab at the neck may be just the thing to stave off recession fatigue.

SARAH HORNE is a lover of all things fashion—except for the romper fad.

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