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Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston

Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston

4.0 1

Cast: Whitney Sudler-Smith, Liza Minnelli, André Leon Talley, Ralph Rucci

Filmmaker Whitney Sudler-Smith reflects on the life and career of Halston, the celebrated fashion designer who clothed some of the most glamorous women of the 1970s. In addition to making sure that clients like Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy always looked their


Filmmaker Whitney Sudler-Smith reflects on the life and career of Halston, the celebrated fashion designer who clothed some of the most glamorous women of the 1970s. In addition to making sure that clients like Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy always looked their best, Halston also left a permanent mark on the fashion industry as the creator of the fabric Ultrasuede, and was known for being a notable fixture of the New York nightclub scene. Later, after selling his business for a mint, he watched as his hedonistic empire crumbled under the weight of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" antidrug campaign. In 1990, Halston died of AIDS at age 57. Interviews with such friends, critics, and collaborators as Anjelica Huston, Stephen Burrows, Billy Joel, and Amy Fine Collins offer a complete picture of the man who changed the face of modern fashion, and did it in a style all his own.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Director Whitney Sudler-Smith was openly (and obviously) inspired to make Ultrasuede -- a documentary about iconic '70s designer Halston -- because of his own idyllic love for disco-era fashion and its most influential figure. But while this level of reverence on the part of inexperienced filmmakers often leads to amateurish tributes, Sudler-Smith never falls prey to this pitfall. On the contrary, the sheer range of topics that Sudler-Smith investigates in his analysis of Halston makes the film too interesting to dismiss. The narrative flows easily from discussions about Halston's innovative take on fabric, cut, and creative tone to insights about his personal and social lives. Even if you go into the movie with reservations about the director's choice to wear feathered hair and aviator sunglasses during most of his interviews, somewhere between the broad scope of appearances by Halston's peers and progenies and the copious amount of original footage and photographs featured in the film, you realize that Sudler-Smith has done his homework -- and earned the right to a little self-indulgence. Besides, he includes so much footage of himself being corrected and snipped at by his subject's closest friends and colleagues, he must have had a little self-deprecation in mind. Perhaps his impressive slew of interviewees could sense the fanboy in Sudler-Smith and didn't want him to paint the larger-than-life figure as nothing more than a Studio 54 impresario, but clearly this was never a real danger. We're talking about the man who dressed Jackie Kennedy and was the creator of the pillbox hat! Not to mention the originator of those shirtwaist, bias-cut dresses that have become not just hallmarks of '70s style, but hallmarks of the classic women's wardrobe. The multitude of angles that the doc takes on each facet of Halston (including his place in the 54 scene) is engrossing; he was clearly a brilliant designer with an uncanny talent for both fashion and chic marketing. It's no wonder the film is able to draw on everything from images of the 1973 Versailles Fashion Show (where Halston was the first American designer to break through in Europe) to relevant moments from The Love Boat. And of course, it doesn't hurt that Sudler-Smith seeks out and interviews any and all relevant personages. He speaks to designers (Diane Von Furstenberg, Stephen Burrows, Ralph Rucci), journalists (André Leon Talley, Glenn O'Brien, Bob Colacello), Halston's models (Pat Cleveland, Anjelica Houston), close friends (Liza Minnelli, Adam and Andy Rapoport), unexpected celebrities who came into his sphere (Nile Rodgers, Billy Joel), and even business associates -- from the VP who ran his perfume division to the man he ordered his orchids from. What's amazing is that every single person interviewed has something interesting to say about the subject (the orchid man sold him upwards of $100,000 worth of flowers a year). It becomes clear throughout the movie that you don't have to be a fanboy or fashionista to appreciate the story of such a smart, flawed, fabulous man.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Video Group
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; An interview with director Whitney Sudler-Smith and producer Adam Bardach, presented by American Express ; Deleted scene: GQ interview

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Whitney Sudler-Smith Participant
Liza Minnelli Participant
André Leon Talley Participant
Ralph Rucci Participant
Cathy Horyn Participant
Stephen Burrows Participant
Bob Colacello Participant
Pat Cleveland Participant
Anjelica Huston Participant
Nicky Haslam Participant
Boaz Mazor Actor
Billy Joel Interviewee
Nile Rodgers Interviewee
Phillip Bloch Participant
Ming Vauze Participant
Naeem Kahn Participant
Amy Fine Collins Participant
Diane Von Furstenberg Participant
Chris Makos Participant
Glenn O'Brien Interviewee
Halston Participant

Technical Credits
Whitney Sudler-Smith Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Adam Bardach Producer
Tom Boykin Sound Editor
Nathan Cornett Associate Producer
Christopher Franke Score Composer
Thomas Golubic Musical Direction/Supervision
Anne Goursaud Producer,Screenwriter
John Paul Horstmann Associate Producer,Editor
Tim Maloney Producer
Scott Miller Cinematographer
Edgar Rothermich Score Composer
Nicholas Simon Producer
Shawn Simon Executive Producer
Alisha Takahashi Associate Producer
Mark Urman Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston
1. Introduction [12:56]
2. Elegance and Simplicity [6:15]
3. The Costume Institute and the Beautiful People [5:38]
4. Fashion Ave, Warhol, and the Start of an Empire [6:39]
5. The King's Castle [11:35]
6. When Decadence Was Chic [7:34]
7. New York City Late 70s [5:54]
8. Blessing and Dressing Studio 54 [7:01]
9. The Halston Moment [5:09]
10. Return of Opulence and JC Penny [7:14]
11. Sad Irony [5:57]
12. The Demise [11:19]

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Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
AlchemystAZ More than 1 year ago
As always, "be careful what you wish for," applies to lives defined as classical tragedies, where the high fall.
LaylaCD More than 1 year ago
This is the fascinating story of a genuinely talented man whose worst habits were tolerated and encouraged because of his ability to make money. Watching the runway tapes show someone bursting with creativity, and frankly women never looked better that when Halston dressed them. My only problem with this effort is the very poor quality of the tapes the director shows of Halston, his group and fashion shows.