Disco Stew: Halston Z-14 and 1-12

For those of you who are of a certain age and who followed fashion or the years of Studio 54 you likely have some memory of Roy Halston Frowick, known mainly as Halston. For those of you who don’t, there was an excellent bio of him a few years ago as well as the subsequent Netflix miniseries. Halston’s Studio era was when I was entering my teens. Living in a small New England college town New York was where I wanted to be: I watched movies like “Eyes of Laura Mars” and wanted that to be my life. Minus the icepick murderer. Halston was late nights, limos, effortless glamour, fabulous clothes and fun. (Of course a 12 year-old didn’t know about drugs. Or crime. Or paying New York rents.)

Now, a lot of the Halston Glamour didn’t really trickle down into the burbs. His infamous ultrasuede shirtdress and wispy, flowing wraps were more suited to a lady built more like wispy Baby Paley than sturdy Babe Ruth. Unlike his contemporaries, he flatly refused to do designer jeans. So the Halston you could get in every day life was the scents: the woman’s (which we will cover when STC gets me my sample,) and the two men’s, Z-14 and 1-12.

Z-14 was the first release, from 1974. Notes (from Fragrantica)

Cypress, Lemon, Bergamot, Green Notes, Basil and Gardenia; middle notes are Cinnamon, Vetiver, Patchouli, Cedar, Coriander, Geranium and Jasmine; base notes are Leather, Oakmoss, Benzoin, Musk, Amber and Tonka Bean

1-12 was released in 1978 with notes (from Fragrantica)

Green Notes, Lemon, Galbanum, Bergamot, Basil and Mandarin Orange; middle notes are Pine Tree Needles, Lavender, Juniper Berries, Carnation and Jasmine; base notes are Oakmoss, Labdanum, Cedar, Musk, Amber, Tonka Bean and Vanilla.

I did actually have both back in the day and I think that 1-12 as considered a little bit of a disappointment. Z-14, while not something that would rock the world back on it’s heels today was fairly heady stuff in 1974 with it’s notes of leather and smoke and a slightly buzzy note that was rumored to smell like cocaine (at least what I heard, but then it was also rumored that if you drank a coke with pop rocks your head would explode.) 1-12 was a bit more of a standard fougere, with it’s barbershop freshness hiding some, but not all, of the late night into early AM antics. If Z-14 smelled like a night at Studio, then 1-12 smelled somewhat like the trip home the morning after, from an anonymous apartment after an anonymous encounter; a quick gargle of his Listerine and a wake-up splash of his English Lavender before heading out for the day.

Do I have to say I bought both? I had to use my allowance at Steiger’s in the Hampshire Mall to do so, but I did..

Both of these are available on the interwebs at shockingly low prices: under $15 each. They might seem slightly dated to some, in a “I know I’ve smelled that but can’t quite pinpoint where” kind of way. Personally I think they are the kind of thing you’d pay 10 times the price were it not in that familiar Elsa Peretti bottle (Although it looks like they no longer bother manufacturing two different ones.) I purchased mine online and spent less than $30 and consider it money well spent.

Now where’s my copy of “Eyes of Laura Mars”?

Photos: Interwebs, Pexels, my iPhone.

  • cinnamon says:

    I wanted to love the Halston women’s fragrance so I could buy that bottle. All the bottles were just so tactile. Alas, I did not buy any of them. No Studio 54 for me either. I don’t recall even thinking about trying to get in. But I did go to the Limelight, the disco in the church, and a few other places. It was a great time to dress up, put on loads of makeup, go out and dance till the earlies. Sigh.

    • Tom says:

      I think I went to Limelight a few times. I went to Area a lot. But that was the early/mid-80’s after the second iteration of Studio was long closed.

  • Musette says:

    Sigh. I. Hate. You. All. (who are not old enough to have been there. Because you’re younger than me. Sigh.

    I was Disco Era. I actually WENT to Studio 54 – once. It wasn’t the easiest place to get into (the first/only was as a guest of a VIP-adjacent cousin). And…for all its glamour it was a sweaty, vaguely seedy glamour that I just knew was going to end in tears – or a coffin.

    I don’t have a great (as in recall) memory of either Halston because my olfacts were drenched in Polo & Pierre Cardin that every single man marinated himself in. Ouch! I do remember the gorgeous bottles, though!



    • Tom says:

      Oh I never said I actually would have gotten in in real life. But I’m not going to let the reality importune on the fantasy.

  • grizzlesnort says:

    I was 21 and traveling for the first time, solo in Europe. A friend gave me a small bottle of Z-14 before I left. I carried it in my backpack and though I never used it while on my travels the smell always reminds me of that time in my life. No disco reminiscences at all for me, then a young man, eager to see more of the world, frugally and very cautiously but determinedly as well.

  • Dina C. says:

    I watched that Netflix series on Halston and thought it was really well done. I was too young and sheltered to know about the hijinks at Studio 54 when they were actually going on. During the disco years I was in junior high. I do remember Halston fragrance for women and what a big hit it was. The miniseries did a good job of depicting the creation of that, particularly the bottle. I don’t think I knew about Z-14 or 1-12. Thanks for the reviews, Tom!

    • Tom says:

      I got to the guys ones first, well, because I’m a guy. In the 70’s when I was a teen we didn’t have anything like the level of instant communication that we have today and most subjects were pretty taboo, so nobody reported what was going on in those clubs. Until they all either went to rehab, jail, or the grave. And even then..

  • March says:

    I didn’t know these (my dad was an Old Spice wearing bureaucrat, not a Disco King) but I distinctly remember saving up my allowance and baby-sitting cash for a pale peach fluttery chiffon dress I saw at Woodies and had to have … I’m sure it looked absolutely terrible on 14-year-old me but I felt like a Disco Queen lol. I probably wore it to a junior high dance or something. Thanks for the flashback!

  • Neva says:

    Those were the days…I was also 12/14-ish at the time Studio 54 was at its peak. The music was shameless – Donna Summer sighing “Love to love you baby…”, the perfumes smelled sweaty. Remember Kouros, Denim, Paco Rabanne pour homme, Cacharel, Drakkar Noir..?
    I have a mini of the original formula of Z-14 and 1-12 and yes, Z-14 is better, sharper, smells slightly like weed. 1-12 with the carnation and jasmine could almost be considered feminine according to today’s standards. Thanks for the nice reminder. Enjoy your perfumes, Tom!

    • Tom says:

      OMG Kouros- still one that sets tongues a wagging! I remember Pierre Cardin in the phallic bottle too.

      I am enjoying these, and as you will read next week enjoying the woman’s one too.

  • rosarita says:

    This brings back memories of a blue leather Halston pant suit I had in the late 70s. The pants weren’t as popular with me as the amazing blue jacket with a big brass zipper up the front. Deceptively simple, I wore it for years. I like the original Halston for women and I recall Z-14 and I’m sure I’ve smelled it but I don’t remember. Thanks for the memories (credit Bob Hope.)

    • Tom says:

      One of the really great things about the miniseries is how it captures what a great dress designer he was. I didn’t know about the whole thing at Versailles until the documentary and the miniseries. It was fascinating.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Tom,
    My mate Scotty still loves Halston scents. He is the definitive drug store cowboy when it comes to fragrance.
    I remember he brought them over a few years ago but have no memory of their scent because it was a group and there was a lot of things to sniff.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    Portia xx

    • Tom says:

      They’re actually really good, especially at the price point we get them at in the States. I do think they smell like the ones that I remember, but I am 100% sure they’re reformulated and not as strong.

  • alityke says:

    Don’t you just love finding cheapies that smell great? Even better if they hold good memories too.
    I used to gobble up all the gossip about Studio 54 in the 70’s. Britt & Rod, Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall & Marie Helvin all shaking their tail feathers to Chic. Those slinky wrap dresses of Diane von Furstenburg. Halston, Gucci Fiorucci. White horses on the dance floor, or did I dream that?
    Never tried any Halston scents though. Not sure I ever saw them on the shelves at Boots.
    The feminine one seems easy to grab now though. I look forward to reading your review when it lands