Halston, An American Original
“Many designers create a look and then find customers that appreciate their point of view. One of the keys to Halston’s success is that he took an opposite approach. First he studied and analyzed fashionable and modern women—how they live, their daily activities, the variety of body types, then he designed fashions that fulfilled, rather than dictated, their fashion needs.”
Halston, An American Original
“The first thing I see in a woman is her grooming.”
Halston, Halston, An American Original
Image Credit: Halton, An American Original
“My definition of bad taste is the woman who walks into a room and everybody says, ‘Look at that Pucci.’ A dress shouldn’t precede a woman—she should come first.”
Clovis Ruffin, The Fashion Makers
In 1978, when The Fashion Makers was published, it was a time of euphoria in the New York fashion industry. Long subservient to Paris, American fashion was finally coming into its own, with stars such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Halston shining as brightly as their European counterparts. Clovis Ruffin, one of the fifty designers profiled in The Fashion Makers, was very much a part of that trend. Why is he all but forgotten today? Because, as we now know, the seventies were the silent beginning the AIDS crisis.
Ruffin was but one of many fashion designers whose life and legacy were derailed by the disease. He died at age forty-six in 1992, and unlike many of his contemporaries, his obituary honestly listed his cause of death as "complications from AIDS." Ditto the obituary for Halston. For other male "Fashion Makers" who died tragically young, however, the obituaries obscure the cause of death, either to protect the brand name, the deceased's family, or a combination of the two.
See also: A Quiz: The Mortimer's Edition
Image Credit: The Fashion Makers
“Halston invited me to Montauk, so I’m going at 6:30 on Friday with him on his rented plane. It’s so nice to be invited to your own house by the person who’s renting it—you feel at home and you’re still making money.”
Andy Warhol, The Andy Warhol Diaries, July 9, 1981
Image Credit: The Fashion Makers
We LOVE thought-provoking inscriptions in books. They transform an item produced in multiples into a one-of-a-kind treasure. Occasionally such inscriptions include information that the author dared not include the in the text, and that makes them part of history. Following are some of the best that have passed through Nick Harvill Libraries, two of which remain available.
Billy Baldwin Decorates, Signed to HalstoN
“For Halston, I wish that every woman who walks in these rooms was dressed by Him. Billy Baldwin, December 1972.”
In this copy of Billy Baldwin Decorates inscribed to the Halston, the dean of American decorators makes it clear whom he considers to be the dean of American fashion designers. Based upon the Bergdorf Goodman price sticker attached to the back of the dust jacket cover, this most likely was signed at the glittering party Bergdorf’s hosted to launch the book.
This would make a marvelous addition to a private collection, or it would also make a welcome donation to a fashion archive such as F.I.T. or the Met’s Costume Institute. For information on purchasing, click here.
Decorating Is Fun, Signed to Jacqueline BouvieR
“For Jacqueline Bouvier, This book goes to you with my best wishes. I Hope it proves useful, Dorothy Draper, August 15, 1953.”
It is difficult to imagine a more significant inscription for Dorothy Draper's classic design primer Decorating Is Fun! Several weeks after the date of this inscription, Jacqueline married John F. Kennedy, which set her on the path to becoming first lady. In that capacity, she took on one of the most prestigious decorating projects in the land. The connection between the future first lady and Draper was Draper’s niece Nancy Tuckerman, Jacqueline’s lifelong friend. This item is sold but listed here. Fabulous!
The Best Awful, Carrie Fisher Goes There!
“For my good to great neighbor Ed—who makes me think sometimes I “married” the wrong powerful gay agent. Oh well, next time. Largest love, Leia Carrie (Fisher).”
As is obvious to anyone who has followed her one-woman show or watched her interviews promoting the latest Star Wars film, Carry Fisher has a frank and quirky sense of humor. It is on full display in this droll inscription to Hollywood agent Ed Limato. The Best Awful is a semi-autographical novel, and the gay agent she did marry is one of the book's most sympathetic characters, adding relevance to the inscription.
Cecil Beaton’s Scrapbook, "Unlucky-in-Love"
“To George who has encouraged me by reading this book. From his admirer----I give up. Love Cecil.”
In this copy of Cecil Beaton's Scrapbook, from 1937--his second book, Cecil Beaton went out all to amuse the object of his affection, composing a humble but funny inscription accompanied by an original drawing of a rose and butterfly. The surname of the George to whom the book is inscribed is unknown, but even though it was decades before their famous falling out, it is unlikely that his friend George Cukor was the recipient.
Traveling Incognito with Bemelmans and Schiaparelli
This copy of How to Travel Incognito is one of those cases in which a picture is worth a thousand words. The written inscription is modest, but Bemelmans charmingly proposes a toast via an effervescent drawing of a Champagne flute. Bottoms up! An added bonus is that the recipient was Elsa Schiaparelli, and in her typical manner, she has written her signature in book, and on the same page as Bemelmans’s drawing to boot. This item sold within minutes after it was listed online, but we do have other books from the collection of Elsa Schiaparelli available here.
Every Night, Josephine, “Elizabeth Taylor in Fur"
“To Lynn & Hy, Even if you don’t like ‘dogs’—Josephine is not really a dog. She’s Elizabeth Taylor in fur.”
Shakespeare she was not, but this inscription by the author of Valley of the Dolls proves Jacqueline Susann possessed an imaginative sense of humor. This delightful book, Every Night, Josephine, preceded Dolls by several years. For information on purchasing, click here.