HALSTON: SEX, DRUGS & FASHION LAW

HALSTON: SEX, DRUGS & FASHION LAW

On last May 14th, Netflix’s premiered HALSTON, a 5 chapters serial starring Ewan McGregor, who masterfully embodies who was the US icon of the fashion industry, in a story based on the Steven Gaines’s book, “Simply Halston,” focused on his rise and fall.

Referring to the path that Halston traveled, from his first great moment as a hat designer for Bergdorf Goodman, when he put himself on the map of great fashion thanks to Jacqueline Kennedy, to the loss of his most important asset, which was precisely his name and brand, would be impossible without mentioning his unbridled sexual life, as well as the destructive spiral to which the consumption of cocaine led him, in an era marked by excesses, where the absence of limits that could be seen in Studio 54, it was normal then.

But beyond the debauchery, Halston made some very important decisions in his business, which may well serve as a reference to anyone linked to the complex and fascinating fashion industry, all of which are inevitably reflected in the serial.

The original sin was present when Halston faced the typical decision to make the development of the business and its growth viable, when although he had already become a recognized and acclaimed designer, his economic success was not necessarily the same, which led him to accept Norton Simon’s offer to acquire his operation, which promised to take him to the peak, not only of fame, but also financially.

Halston, like many rising designers in search of financing their dreams of growing and positioning themselves in the preference of their target public, succumbed to the normal voracity of the investor, giving up all control of their company, which is always extremely dangerous, since the interests of designer and investor will hardly remain aligned, as in effect ended up being the case, where Norton Simon, logically was only interested in increasing his sales at any cost, to the point that despite he started as a reference brand at pair of the greatest designers, it ended up on the shelves of a massive store like JC Penney. Putting it on perspective, let’s imagine Louis Vuitton products for sale in Target stores. Thus, after many disagreements marked by the designer’s own personal disasters and his natural resistance and discouragement due to the decadence that for him represented the fact that his brand was on the racks of massive stores, all ended with his exclusion from the company and worse, losing his right to use his own name/brand.

Cases like Halston’s abound in the fashion industry, as investors often have significant advantages when negotiating contracts that guarantee and protect their investment, which in the end is fair for those who take risks. However, negotiating with the importance and value of the brand in mind, especially when that brand is the name of the designer, is also fair, and in the end, everything must translate into reflecting the best possible compensation, for whoever loses the mark control after an eventual conflict. In fact, in one of the last scenes of the series, Halston expressed upon meeting his good friend Joe Eula, that he knew that he had given his name for a very low price, because he would be willing to pay double to get it back.

Fashion Law today offers designers, investors and in general all those who are linked to the industry, the tools to anticipate unhappy endings such as Halston’s, and despite the legal advice does not prevent the decisions and behaviors of each person, it allows to anticipate the consequences and results derived from the behaviors and decisions of each person. The investor will generally be well advised, and therefore the designer is equally obliged to be interested in knowing in due detail the scope of whatever he signs and accepts while aspiring to fame and fortune.

Cástor González-Escobar | Partner at @grlexamericas | castor@grlexamericas.com

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