Disco Stew, Too: Halston for Women

Last time I nattered on about the guy fragrances from Halston; this time let’s talk about the ladies. Halston (Now “Halston Classic”) Was released in 1975 according to Fragrantica, with notes of:

Top notes are Green Leaves, Mint, Melon, Bergamot and Peach; middle notes are Marigold, Carnation, Cedar, Orris Root, Rose, Ylang-Ylang and Jasmine; base notes are Oakmoss, Amber, Vetiver, Incense, Patchouli, Sandalwood and Musk

What I got from my sample from Surrender to Chance was a burst of white florals- one that reminded me a bit of classic Joy (if not as heady.) The rose and jasmine are right there at the start, made more spring-like with the mint and bergamot.

Then it starts to get…….. dark.

In the miniseries, they actually go over the development of the fragrance with the nose walking a reluctant Halston through the process of of choosing the notes for the scent. He dismisses Oudh as smelling like cow dung and openly weeps at some of the sense memories that one of the notes presented to him brings up. Such is the power of scent, the lady who was hired (in the miniseries- in reality it was Bernard Chant) to be his nose tells him. Eventually he presents her with notes he wants to include in his eponymous scent, including one of the only orchids known to have one and his lover’s used athletic supporter (which she, professional and game lady that she is, huffs deeply)

Halston the scent captures that duality- starting with the diaphanous disco dolly of the sparkly white flower notes and then going into the musky incensy patch with a hint of smoke and leather bringing out the hedonism of the heel of the evening, where the goings on in the balcony and VIP area are best not talked about and certainly better not end up in Page Six.

I honestly can write that I have no real memory of what this smelled like then or the different concentrations and am not sure of the vintage of my sample from STC (It’s just described as the cologne.) An article in Town and Country says this is a wan ghost of the original. I would seriously love to smell that vintage: or would I? I grew up longing to move to NY and be part of that glam group and came of age in the 80’s when the party was frankly over. Best case scenario would be that it would be another wonderful fragrance that has been lost to time, fashion, and the stranglehold of safety regulations. Worst case it may make me, like Halston in the miniseries, weep for a time that I never would have been able to know or capture.

Halston Classic is available on the interwebs for shockingly low prices. I got my sample from Surrender to Chance.

Pictures are from the interwebs except for the one of the sample. which is mine.

  • Neva says:

    I had a bottle back in the 80-ies and remember that herbal note (probably the green leaves), which made it so appealing to me in the opening. If I only knew back than that they would reformulate it…sigh… The current version is a pale shadow of what it used to be, unfortunately.

  • Annie says:

    I think I have a bottle of this. Thanks for the insight! I have hit a lot of estate sales and antique stores and bought just about anything I could get my hands on. A ton of misses, but some real winners. Happy to pass along those that others might enjoy!

  • ElizaC says:

    I may have to give that perfume a try. The 70s in New York and the 70s for a teenager living in Bellingham, WA were two different universes! Things just weren’t as accessible and just existed in magazines. I still remember ordering Blondes first album based solely on reviews in a magazine.

    • Tom says:

      Even western Mass was another Universe.

      I got the first Blondie album and wanted to shoot my big brother when he told our parents it was Punk Rock..they were afraid I’d but my hair off and get something pierced. Which didn’t happen until at least the late 80’s

  • Dina C. says:

    What I remember most is that lovely organic shaped bottle, designed by Paloma Picasso. It was ground-breaking back then. I remember seeing it in department stores, and smelling it there. But neither my mother nor I wore it. I think mom sewed herself an Ultrasuede dress based on one of his designs, though, at some point.

    • Tom says:

      I remember the bottle most as well. It sort of started the whole Paloma Picasso Tiffany thing which is still going on today (to great effect, I think)

      • MzChris says:

        Elsa Peretti designed the Halston bottle. She started out as one of his models. She was also making jewelry for a few designers in N.Y. I think the first thing she made for Halston was a small silver bud vase on a black silk cord. Tiffany still carries her line.

  • March says:

    I don’t remember this at all — I was not into fragrance then, and a bit young for their target audience. But I love the backstory, especially the bit about huffing the athletic supporter lol — the things we do for our art!

    • Tom says:

      ’75 was a little before my time as well. I remember the Halston hype and all the ads in the NYTimes and the magazines but that was even before they invented the scent strip (of the days!)

      I have never wanted to huff an athletic supporter, no matter who has or is wearing it. Which is one reason perhaps that I would not have fit in with the Studio crowd. Just a little too puritan around the edges..

  • Musette says:

    I remember everything about this Halston…but the actual scent! That photo of Bianca prompted me to check her out IRL (now) – she is aging well, not letting vanity turn her into a mannequin. But she was always a badass, so I expected no less from her.

    Glad she survived those heady, dangerous days – not everyone did.

    xoxox

    • Tom says:

      Yes, Bianca seems to have done well, and yes she left her face alone. Good for her. But she still has those fabulous cheekbones and she’s still Bianca Jagger, so she wins.

  • cinnamon says:

    Glad you did women’s too. Love that bottle. Never even tried to get into Studio 54 but had loads of fun elsewhere. Still remember wearing black eye shadow shot through with gold to work (can’t imagine anyone with a ‘normal’ job doing that now). It was that sort of time.

    • Musette says:

      those were wonderful, weird (and dangerous) times!

      xoxox

      • cinnamon says:

        They were. In so many ways. Indeed, Bianca is fierce.

        • Tom says:

          Bianca really is kind of showing how it’s done. She’s gone on to do good works, raised her kids, no big scandals, and continued to be generally fabulous.

        • Annie says:

          I have a vintage Arpege, full for you, if you like.

          • Annie says:

            That was for cinnamon!

          • cinnamon says:

            That would be really kind, but you realise I’m in the UK with associated shipping issues (not sure where you are)?

          • Annie says:

            I’m trying to figure out the UK shipping rules. I didn’t know which country you are from, but am happy to send it. No jail time??

          • cinnamon says:

            Where are you shipping from? The US? If so, you can try USPO and put used cosmetics on the customs form… If EU, just forget it (and thank you for thinking of me) as shipping costs are getting ridiculous because of the unsayable word.

      • Tom says:

        There was quite a bit of danger involved, on so many levels. Funny to have observed first hand the change of the meat packing district where day and night the packing of meat (if you will pardon the pun) was going on to being the chi-chi-foo-foo “MePa” area it is today.

      • Annie says:

        I saw you enjoyed the Anais Anais, in yesterday’s comments. I have a pretty full vintage bottle that you are more than welcome to.
        ?

    • Tom says:

      Studio was before my time. I was an Area kid. Interesting times.

  • alityke says:

    Now my interest is piqued? My only concern is my scented nemesis – mint! Gak.
    Is it readable as mint or does the mint simply give the opening lift?
    Don’t rue missing Studio 54 days, you got NYC 80s CBGBs punk didn’t you?
    I got Punk, Industrial Electronica & early Goth. I wouldn’t change that. They smelt of Poison, patch oil, leather jackets, hairspray & sweat.

    • Tom says:

      I don’t get any mint in there at all- but I don’t get a lot of the claimed notes and do get some that aren’t.

      Don’t get me wrong- I don’t really pine for the 70’s and that era. I more pine for the seven minutes of sexual freedom that that generation enjoyed: there wasn’t an STD (yet) that wasn’t a pill away from being cured and while you could still be fired (or murdered) for being gay pretty much without consequences there was a lot more freedom to, shall we say “mingle?”

      Of course, as I have written, I am a bit of a puritan and in real life even though I went to some of those places in the 80’s and 90’s my reaction was usually “ew.” I was more than happy to dance my a$$ off at various clubs in NY, Boston, and LA that don’t exist anymore.

      Now I am more likely to be in bed by 11, watching the news and waiting for Colbert to come on and the next days Wordle to drop at midnight. I can always spritz on some 70’s disco glam and pop “Eyes of Laura Mars” or “American Gigolo” in to remind me of the era.

      Or rent Must Stop, er, Please Stop, ok, “Can’t Stop the Music” to remind myself that it needed to end.

      • alityke says:

        11pm? That’s pretty rock n roll to me! I like to be tucked with dog & Kindle by about 9pm.
        Halston original seemed to be everywhere a few years ago. Did a search for it after reading your piece & no where near as available in the UK as it was. Bl**dy Brexit

      • Martina says:

        Yes ….. when ” dance studios ”
        mini-malls started offering toddler disco classes … welll ….

  • Maya says:

    Tom, your sample is “Retro-Halston Cologne”. It’s vintage. STC uses “retro” for all vintage perfumes. 🙂 And now I want to try it too. I like just about every note in it and I like the bottle and I like the Studio 54 reference and I like your description of it. Look what you started! lol.

    • Tom says:

      Good to know! It’s really nice- but now I’m spoiled! I’m sure the stuff they’re selling now isn’t it at all..

      • Maya says:

        I was just on STC and am not sure now if retro and vintage are the same. Retro is listed as perfumes from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. The Halston is listed as “original” version and another perfume was listed as “current” version. So……..

        • Tom says:

          Ah, okay. I see where there’s confusion (including mine). Still not sure, but I like this one. I would like it to be about three times stronger, especially in the end, but I don’t really do subtle.

  • Portia says:

    Yeah, I missed the boat on NYC and the 54 years too Tom. It seemed like a scary fabulous time to be alive there.
    Never mind, we had enough fun in the 80s, 90s and naughties to make up for any feelings of FOMO.
    Portia xx