Part 1 of 2
Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston (2010) Director: Whitney Sudler-Smith
Limelight (2011) Director: Billy Corben
Party Monster (2003) Directors: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
“I love America.”—Peter Gatien
“All American kid from the Midwest. This is a great American.”—Liza on Roy Halston Frowick
Fashion and dance clubs may seem to “the Right” to be odd places to look for icons of America, to say nothing of being embodiments of Aryan archetypes. Well, too bad for them; they’re losing anyway, and that lack of imagination is why.
The first generation of Traditionalists knew that the Tradition they defined and defended was precisely that which manifested itself in all parts of so-called “traditional” societies; conversely, even the smallest, most “irrelevant” part of a Traditional culture could serve as a vehicle of metaphysical principles; hence the importance, especially to Coomaraswamy and Daniélou, of art and music.
These two films, Ultrasuede and Limelight, each tell the tale of a White man from the North American heartland who, imbued with the Faustian Spirit, came to New York to make his dreams come true, only to be torn down by the under men. And if that seems too depressing, you can watch Party Monster for a (perhaps unintentionally) comic take on the whole thing.
They also display quite different documentary styles. Ultrasuede is typical of the modern, “guerilla” filmmaking school; the director, in this case one improbably named Whitney Sudler-Smith, makes himself part of the show, gonzo-style, sort of a less uptight Michael Moore but more serious than Sasha Baron Cohen. Limelight is the more traditional, National Film Board of Canada style, but both are cobbled together from news footage and vérité clips, with present-day interviews added in for commentary, backstory, and reflections, all held together with contemporary music as grout.
Whether you like the first kind of documentary is largely a function of whether you like the filmmaker. As someone once explained tenure decisions to me, would you want to have lunch with this person for the next 20 years? Sudler-Smith starts off rather irritating, but damn if he does kinda grow on yah.
Detroit, when I grew up there in the ‘60s and ‘70s was not just mostly White but specifically a mixture of second or third generation Irish, recent European immigrants, mostly Polish, as well as internal immigrants from Appalachia, hillbillies, in short; the ones sung about, and singing, Bobby Bare’s country hit “Detroit City.”
So one has to smile—well, our kind of people would—at his cherry red Pontiac Firebird with its Confederate license plates, and especially how his interview with Vogue’s Head Negro in Charge, Andre Leon Talley is interrupted not just by his cellphone but his “Dixie” ringtone.
All this seems to be based on some kind of Southern connection in his upbringing, although his mother is more debutante than Daisy Duke, and her more recent marriage to a Tribesman—Arthur Goodhart Altschul—is more relevant, as we’ll see. Smith even starts by bringing his mother on to try and explain his fascination with the ‘70s, and all they can come up with is his love of watching Smokey and the Bandit on TV. Hence, the car, the porn moustache, the vaguely but not oppressively “Southern” attitude. Like many immigrants, internal or otherwise, he calls on his “heritage” selectively; mostly, to annoy his interviewees. Whether this is a conscious strategy, or just Judaic/hillbilly bumptiousness, is unclear.
What soon becomes clear is that the whole thing is something of a vanity project. His childhood fascination with the ‘70s has become a grown-up obsession with great periods of decadence, from Babylon to Weimar, and he has become “interested” in Halston as the great symbol of ’70s sleaze.
It’s easy to imagine him simpering “Divine decadence” like Sally Bowles, so it’s appropriate that his first stop is to interview Liza Minnelli. She patiently instructs the hapless Smith to “do some research” and stay away from the gossip, but Smith is incapable of really “getting” what Halston was or what he meant to the fashion world, despite all the people he interviews, so eventually, having run out of content, he circles back to his personal obsessions and devotes a great deal of time, and news footage, to Studio 54 and Halston’s rather gruesome boy toy. He even finds time to interview Billy Joel, whose expertise on Halston is based on one line in one of his dumb songs. But he’s rich, and famous, and a Tribesman, so enjoy!
It is interesting, though, to see juxtaposed interview subjects recalling all kinds of sex and drugs in the Studio 54 basement, with Liza’s deadpan “I never saw anything like that.” Allowing for selective memory, it’s still a testament to Aristotle’s dictum that poetry is truer than history. We’ll see soon what relevance, tiny though it is, Studio 54 may have to Halston.
Even within the wreckage of Smith’s wretched film, there’s enough material to suggest the real significance of Halston.
Halston: Fashion Fascism, Fashion Futurism
Using simple shapes and luxe fabrics, Halston helped cast off the hippie look in the ’70s, and he was America’s first celebrity designer. Designer Ralph Rucci, whose first job was toiling in Halston’s workshop, described the feeling at the time of the designer’s influence, “It was going to be a new history. You knew it. Working on the clothes, you had never seen patterns like these before. You . . . had to think in different dimensions.” Vogue’s Talley emphasized the American-ness of Halston’s clothing, and its sense of post-war industriousness: “Ultimate quality for the American woman, or the international woman, with style glamour and class is his legacy.”
In order to understand the significance of Halston, I suggest we need to see him as an embodiment of the Faustian Man, Spengler’s term for the spirit of Western, White civilization—or rather, culture, a significant difference for Spengler, as we shall see. Moreover, by looking at the contradictory advice by Spengler and the Italian Futurists to Faustian Man at the end of his culture’s lifecycle, we can see how Halston’s career trajectory instantiated the Futurist option that Spengler rejected as heroic, but inevitably doomed.
Simplicity, Space, Light
The “prime symbol” of the Faustian is “pure limitless space.” We see this manifested in several ways throughout Halston’s career.
Although his life was associated with excess, from sex and drugs to his six-figure orchid habit, Halston’s clothes were characterized by elegant simplicity. As Rucci fondly recalls, “Nobody looked tasteful anymore.”
Not only his designs—simple, elegant mathematical expanses of pure fabric—but even his work methods manifested the same effortless command of space:
None tells the story of his talent as well as one-time design assistant and now-famous couturier Ralph Rucci. One night, Halston startled him by throwing a bolt of purple chiffon on the floor and cutting a dress out of a single piece of fabric, no seams necessary. “It wraps around the body in one piece and it catches at the top of the neck. As a woman walks, it opens a bit at the leg and she almost becomes naked in this vapor of chiffon,” Rucci says. “Do you know anybody who can think in three dimensions and cut it right there on the floor? I don’t.”
The story is repeated in the film, and seems to be the basis of a kind of fashion myth—one inevitably thinks of the cloak Mary sewed for Jesus, without seam. As we’ll see, eventually lots will be cast over the ownership of Halston’s empire.
We also find pure, limitless space, and its accompaniment, pure light, in Halston’s workspace and living space. As his career skyrocketed, he moved from a small boutique to the 21st floor of Olympic Towers in New York’s Midtown.
“The King needed a castle.”
The showroom/offices, which Smith visits today to interview Halston model Pat Cleveland, are one, contiguous space, bisected by floor to ceiling pocket doors (costing 500k or 5 million in today’s money, we are breathlessly informed). The walls are mirrored. “It was like being in a glass box” Cleveland recalls, adding that she used the World Trade Center, visible through the floor to ceiling glass of one wall, “as my focal point” when applying makeup.
“He called me the moth. I was always flying to the light.”
“Always had big windows and sun.”—Liza
And something else could be seen more closely: Halston’s “insolent boast” (Spengler):
“I don’t have to go to church. [St. Patrick’s] is right across the street.”—Halston
The same marshaling of vast amounts of space and light occurs in Halston’s equally famous townhouse, at the time the only contemporary house built in New York since the war. With 30-foot ceilings and a 60-foot living room, it was the scene of legendary dinners and parties, which of course is all that Smith is interested in. More importantly for us, the carpet and furnishings are monochromatic grey, a color we’ll be seeing again in significant places, with candles everywhere. After tearing himself away from reminiscing about “decadent parties” at the townhouse, we return to the offices so that we can see Smith get a delusory compliment from Cleveland about looking like Halston, while we get the more important fact that “he always wore black.” The theme of mono-chromatic uniforms will become important in our reflections here.
But if Halston had merely been a skilled dress-cutter he would have earned nothing but the scorn of Spengler or the Futurists. Spengler regarded the “artsy craftsy” obsessions of many Conservatives as a dead end, a confession of defeat, like—as we shall see—pacifism. Faustian Man, to be true to himself, must harness the latest technology to his ends.
Halston did this most famously with his realization that simple, flowing designs would be perfectly realized by a new synthetic fabric, Ultrasuede. Typically, Smith gloms onto the word for his very title, but says nothing about it. So, courtesy of Wikipedia, here’s a quick rundown:
Ultrasuede is the trade name for a synthetic microfiber fabric invented in 1970 by Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto, a scientist working for Toray Industries. In Japan it is sold under the brand name Ecsaine. It was the world’s first ultra-microfiber. It is often described as an artificial substitute for suede leather. The fabric is multifunctional: it is used in fashion, interior decorating, automotive and other vehicle upholstery, and industrial applications, such as protective fabric for electronic equipment. It is also a very popular fabric in the manufacture of footbags (also known as hacky sacks).
For Spengler, the very dynamism of Faustian Man’s nature prevents him, even in the Winter of his culture, from simply surrendering to the inevitable decline; rather, he will harness his technological achievements and hurl himself full steam ahead. Pacificism was impossible, short of senility; the race’s will to power, expressing itself in all aspects of life, from personal interaction to vast cultural enterprises to, indeed, literal warfare, must inevitably lead to conflict and struggle for supremacy. As Bolton says, “The aesthetic of the new Western will to power is ushered by both Spengler and the Futurists by struggle.”
Here, however, Spengler and the Futurists diverge, in a way relevant to our look at Halston. For Spengler, art, including presumably fashion, was dead, fit only for museums. “Artists” today are just kidding themselves at best; at worst, poisoning our culture, or what’s left of it, with their decaying “ideas.” The best White brains should be directed to science, and in particular, engineering—interestingly, Evola’s field of study.
“Art, yes, but in concrete and steel.”—Spengler
The Futurists seem to take Spengler’s challenge but invert it; they would attempt to make art out of concrete and steel.
There is nothing for us to admire today but the dreadful symphonies of the shrapnel and the mad sculptures that our inspired artillery molds among the masses of the enemy.
Of course, although the Futurists contributed much to the public monuments and graphic propaganda of Fascist Italy, they never actually shot up any enemy troops— just as the Surrealist Breton never fired a gun into a crowd. Their struggle, like Halston’s, took the form of what Nietzsche called Geisterkrieg, comparable to the European New Right’s—and the North American New Right’s—notion of metapolitics.
The struggle originates with one, charismatic individual—a Marinetti, a Halston, a Warhol, a Chavez, or a Dugin—who seeks to impose his vision—his will to power—on society.
It is from these differentiated individuals that influence is exerted upon society in the wider perspective—[forming] the loci and focal points of the causal power structure. Individualism is followed by the formation of groups and organs, related tendencies join together . . . ; between these centres of power friction, recognition of one another’s forces, [etc.] Every Aristocratic Radical maintains the central position within their respective collective as the creative principle until eventually society is presided over by a new aristocracy of creators.
In this “optimistic” version of Spengler,
Culture, therefore, will return when the people work together to place value upon producing single individuals who are capable of creating and shaping the current to produce great works. . . . Nietzsche’s Geisterkrieg has no need of garnishing votes, no need of propaganda or money—all it needs to be enacted is to win the hearts and the minds of the people—which is why it is a ‘war of the spirit’ against the ‘cultural philistine’.
“All it needs”? This seems like the kind of “optimism” that Spengler decried as unrealistic, in an essay defending himself form the corresponding charge of “pessimism.” The experience of Futurism, Fascism and, as we shall see, Halston, suggests he has a point.
Although it may seem a bit of a stretch to construe the “struggle” of, say, an Andy Warhol to impose his vision on every aspect of society in terms of warfare, in the case of Halston the image imposes itself, again and again.
Halton’s first triumph—and is this not already a military term?—occurred when, still only a milliner at Bergdorf’s, he was selected to design a hat for Jackie Kennedy to wear to the inaugural. The result, the famous “pillbox” hat, was an instant fashion craze and remains a fashion icon. And of course, in name and form, it’s entirely military.
Then, striking out on his own as a designer, Halston scores his greatest triumph when he is one of five American designers selected, for the first time, to exhibit in France.
Versailles ’73 tells of an EPIC—people usually use this word for non-epic moments, but this is one that’s deserving—fashion show that would put five well known French couturiers against five, then less globally recognized and respected, American fashion designers . . . the end result of what happened that night would forever change fashion, the lives of the designers involved, and the models that served as muses that night; especially the African American models who came onto stage and dazzled the predominantly French audience like nothing they had ever seen before. . . . These designers put read-to-wear on ‘the map’, and took fashion in a new direction, away from the elaborate haute couture that only the noble and, well, rich could wear, and opened everyone’s eyes to a new way of dress, that was fit for all.
“The Battle of Versailles,” as WWD called it, was a rout for the French. Supremely confident—“The French didn’t consider America as anything” fellow designer Stephen Burrows recalls—. the ancien regime put up the whole creaking machinery of their high “culture,” including . . . ballet dancers. Really?
“They had scenery and staging . . . it was really kind of corny.”—Stephen Burrows
For once, Sudley-Smith gets it right, saying to Minnelli, “So, the Americans whipped the French again.” Or as Yves Saint Laurent had to admit, “We’ve learned something.”
Learned what? As Minnelli recalls: “We did it like Americans. We did it like Halston. Direct, to the point, effective.”
Or as Marinetti might say, ballet dancers are no match for bullets.
Simplicity, whether cutting a dress without a pattern or employing a high-tech fabric that could be used for anything by anyone, this was the purest expression of Faustian Man, the fit weapon to combat the cultural philistines.
We’ll get back to that bit about “Americans” and clothing “fit for all” in a moment, but first let’s finish the chronicles of Halston by looking at his next triumph: Halston went to China—like Nixon—ostensibly to open up Chinese manufacturing for American clothing makers. Actually, it was another field for Halston to impose his will:
“Can the designs be changed? Is that such a problem?”
But although Halston’s more colorful designs and models win over the dour Chinese bureaucrats, we also notice that there’s not that much difference between the two groups. Next to the Chinese officials, Halston’s own monochromatic clothes fit right in, and when two officials give approval to one of the models’ outfits—“Nice color”—we notice the color, at least in the washed-out news footage, matches their own suits.
In fact, we’ve seen these models at various earlier scenes, as Halston’s constant entourage, known variously as the Halstonettes (WWD) or Ultraettes (Talley), making grand entrances on yachts—another military image—all, including Halston, attired in the same color, which would change on schedule throughout the day, even in China. And remember the pillbox hat?
Indeed, what better expression of the modern, technological age than the uniform, especially for a designer known for simplicity, monochromatic, uniformity (’natch)?
Reflecting on the China trip, model Pat Cleveland muses, “He did it for America. Everything he did was for America.”
And America, as Minnelli told us earlier, “did it like Halston.”
So it becomes clear that what Halston wanted to do for America was provide it with a uniform—not so obvious and forced as the Mao suit, but a wardrobe simple, affordable, and flattering on all. America’s true nature, expressed in its clothing, just as Tradition is manifested in the Hindu sari or the Arab’s thawb. Exactly what a man whose talent lay in fashion design could contribute—or impose upon by sheer will—a still-majority White nation facing the coming struggle to the death against what Spengler called “the colored world revolution.”
I always wanted to reach a wider America. When you’re able to produce a dress—that a woman can wear to work, wear out, that’s machine-washable—for $75, that’s magic.
Things did not quite work out, but before turning to Halston’s decline and fall, let’s ask ourselves, what with this America bit? Who cares? Why on Earth did Halston care?
As we saw in discussing the necessity of struggle, cultures are rooted in real communities, not any abstract “humanity.” The task, as the Futurists realized, was that
Western technics must be harnessed for the great deeds to be undertaken by the West, or at least by Italy, and not in the service of democratic and humanistic doctrines in the service of a nebulous “mankind.”
The task, then, having overthrown the French hegemony and pacified China with trade, was to clothe America. But how?
Here was Halston’s last great idea—his last temptation, as it were. Halston inked a licensing deal—worth, he said, a billion dollars—in the ’70s!—with down-market mass-marketer J. C. Penny’s. Such deals are fairly common today, but the fashion industry was not ready for them back then. Trying to lead the masses, Halston got too far out in front of his industry peers, and lost control of them. He lost his flagship position at Bergdorf, had his name diluted by being attached to too many and too poorly thought-out products—basically, anything that could have Ultrasuede tacked onto it, in line with our idea of the creator imposing his vision on every aspect of a culture—and after a number of corporate shifts and buy-outs, wound up with the ultimate indignity of losing control of his own name. “Halston” was now the registered trademark of a mayonnaise company.
So what ultimately happened to what Mel Brooks might call “Halston: the Label”?
In 2007, Harvey Weinstein curated a team of people, including ex-Jimmy Choo scion Tamara Mellon and Rachel Zoe, to revive the Halston label. . . . Zoe, an avid Halston collector, dissociated herself from the revival not long after she signed on (Sudler-Smith approached her about participating in the film around the time she was dismantling her contract, so she didn’t participate). The team was plagued with unstable management and halfhearted investors, who seemed to have good intentions but did not want to invest the necessary energy and resources to see them through. That revival fizzled not long after Sarah Jessica Parker practically sneaked out of her contract as creative director of the more affordable Halston Heritage line—which will endure without the pricier Halston line in her wake. (Halston hired Parker after shooting for Ultrasuede wrapped, but she lent her support by attending its Tribeca Film Festival premiere in 2010.) Now Halston Heritage is run by ex-BCBG president Ben Malka, and owned by him and Hilco Consumer Capital, which bought Weinstein and Parker’s contracts out. Though BCBG is a watered-down, mid-market mass label that can hardly be thought of as fashion-forward, it’s unclear what Malka will do with Halston.
A veritable gathering of the Elders of Zion, to fiddle and fuss over the corpse of an Aryan talent they coveted but now have no Earthly clue what to do with! Harvey Weinstein [aka Les Grossman of Tropic Thunder] Rachel Zoe [née Rosenzweig], Sara Jessica Parker, and even apparently the Talmudic sage Ben Malka—a dead ringer for Jerry Orbach—who, to answer New York’s question, plans to run Halston the Brand as “an American fashion legacy.”
“Legacy”; Zoe as a “avid Halston collector”; as with everything else, what White culture creates winds up in one of the famous international Judaic “collections.” And get this:
How ironic that Sudler-Smith’s stepdaddy, Arthur Altschul, was part of the corporate takeover phenomenon that crushed Halston and made a bad name for licensing. In fact, daddy’s company, Goldman Sachs, was pretty much the nexus of the takeover phenomenon: remember folks, it’s all about who can get the credit.
Getting back to the “optimistic” Futurists, it seems clear that the “pessimistic” Spengler foresaw Halston’s error.
The fatal flaw in the Faustian and Futurist visions was that The West was not liberated from plutocracy and Western technics remains firmer than ever in the grasp of Money.
Indeed, the recent “credit crisis” (i.e., the Greater Depression) only shows that Goldman Sachs is indeed even more the Master of the Universe than ever before. We must wait until that changes before our culture will be “presided over by a new aristocracy of creators.”
Until then, what the global financiers want is not the “chaotic” world of competing cultures unified by their own styles under their various cultural elites, but one “world culture” unified as merely as interchangeable humanoids under the financiers’ rule.
As Evola said, discussing Spengler’s contrast of culture and “civilization” (meaning, among other things, rule by Burnham’s “managerial elite” and other financial types):
If it is absurd to pursue our higher ideal in the context of a ‘Zivilisation’, [as Halston unknowingly did] because it would become twisted and almost inverted, [as Halston’s vision was subverted into what we have today] we can still recognise, in the overcoming of what has precisely the character of ‘Zivilisation’, the premise for every really reconstructive initiative.
Thus Halston’s end is tragic, because, like Faust, he was unable to overcome his fated environment.
But as several voice-overs tell us as the film fades out, there would not be this tragic end if the work hadn’t been good. And the work remains: still seen, still worn, still, as Rucci says, untouchable.
Smith seems incapable of learning to appreciate Halston through his interviews. At best, he winds up appreciating that Halston was not just the ultimate decadent of the ’70s of Smith’s teenage fantasies, but “had a lot of friends.” Sheesh.
Perhaps inevitably, Smith ends his movie with a credit sequence that layers a montage of Halston sketches over The Trampps “Disco Inferno.” It really kind of works, suggesting a kind of fashion Götterdämmerung for this most Aryan of fashionistas.
The real end of Halston was more subtle; after moving to San Francisco, he bought an 800k Rolls Royce and had himself driven through redwood forests in Northern California, a perfect image of archeofuturism.
Ultrasuede is ultimately a failure, due to Smith’s vanity and ignorance (“Who’s Diana Vreeland?”). Despite himself, the story he tells has enough elements to suggest that Halston deserves a full-scale treatment of his role as an Aryan fashion entrepreneur. Smith, however, is just not the White Guy to do it.
No matter; the Poet who will sing the tragic legend of Halston will someday appear:
The Poet reminds us that we were not born yesterday. He restores the foundations of our identity, the paramount expression of an ethical and aesthetic inheritance that is “ours,” that he held in trust. And the principles that he brought to life in his models never cease to reappear to us, proof that the hidden thread of our tradition could not be broken.
1. Trevor Lynch shows the right approach reviewing Jan Counen’s Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky he points out that “Stravinsky and Chanel . . . were both highly talented individuals in their own rights, but they also interest me because they combined avant-garde aesthetics with archaic, conservative, even reactionary tastes and convictions.”
2. As Baron Evola says:
“Tradition,” in the complete sense, is a feature of the periods which Vico would call “heroic ages”—where a sole formative force, with metaphysical roots, manifested itself in customs as well as in religion, in law, in myth, in artistic creations, in short in every particular domain of existence. Where can the survival of tradition in this sense be found today? And, specifically, as European tradition, great, unanimous, and not peasant or folkloric, tradition? It is only in the sense of the levelling “totalitarianism” that tendencies towards political-cultural absolute unity have appeared. In concrete terms, the “European tradition” as culture has nowadays as content only the private and more or less diverging interpretations of intellectuals and scholars in fashion . . . ”
Julius Evola, “Spiritual And Structural Presuppositions of The European Union” in Greg Johnson, ed. North American New Right, Vol. 1 (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).
3. It’s like Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to Gatien’s Hamlet. If, as I will suggest, Gatien found himself in the role of Wotan, Michael Alig would be his Loki.
4. Halston turns out to have had a . . . friend . . . who seems to have been the real-life inspiration for Baron’s Borat—it’s easy to imagine him in Borat’s yellow slingshot bikini—not that Sudler-Smith ever makes the point.
5. Limelight is, after all, about a dance club entrepreneur, while Ultrasuede veers off, like its subject, into an infatuation with the Judaic-run Studio 54. Bizarrely, the latter film makes considerable use of Wild Cherry’s “Play that Funky Music, White Boy” but keeps cutting out the words “White boy” in the chorus (perhaps using a version, similarly cut, that was used for airplay in Boston—banned in Boston?)—an interesting choice, given the Aryan themes we will find in Halston’s life and work.
6. Not for nothing did the Federal Court system link together Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia into one district.
7. And love Andre’s smooth reaction: “Can somebody get me another cappuccino, puh-leeze?”
8. One wishes he would wind up interviewing Hannibal Lecter, so that the good Doctor could tell him that “Good nutrition’s given you some length of bone, but you’re not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you . . . ? And that accent you’ve tried so desperately to shed: pure West Virginia.”
9. Though he does not “way over-southern it” as MST3K finds the actors in Squirm.
10. For more on Billy see “Billy and Alexa Ray Joel” by James Holbeyfield.
11. To anticipate our proposal of the correct way to view Halston, Smith’s fixation on Studio 54 as the “key” to Halston reminds one of Pasolini’s Salo, where the last days of Mussolini’s Social Republic are recast as a reenactment of Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom. Of course, there is otherwise no similarity between the two auteurs.
12. “Disco’s not dead; the return of Halston,” reviewing Ultrasuede in Interview magazine here.
13. For information on Spengler and the Futurists I am indebted to Kerry Bolton’s “Faustianism and Futurism: Analogous Primary Elements in Two Doctrines on European Destiny” in Aristokratia (Manticore Press, 2013), pp. 82–114.
14. Spengler, Decline of the West, vol. 1, p. 183.
15. Sam Adams January 19, 2012 http://www.avclub.com/articles/ultrasuede-in-search-of-halston,67879/
16. “Halston we hardly knew ye” http://www.thedaily.com/page/2012/01/20/012012-arts-movies-review-halston-1-3
17. When the ultimate ownership of Halston’s empire was decided, the new owners sent security guards—centurians—to effect the return of every item of clothing Halston had ever given a model or celebrity.
18. Bolton, pp. 84–86.
19. Bolton, p. 89
20. “Appear” because, as Bolton makes clear, neither Spengler nor the Futurists seems to have even heard of each other, much less been influenced. The same, of course, with them and Halston.
21. Marinetti, “War: The Ultimate Hygiene,” quoted in Bolton, p. 90.
22. Gwendolyn von Taunton, “Aristocratic Radicalism: The Political Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche,” in Aristokratia, pp. 11–49; quotes on pp. 28, 40, and 48.
23. See his “Pessimism?” from 1921.
24. As Greg Johnson writes:
If the moral life is rooted in a plurality of different cultures and ways of life, this also implies the existence of real conflicts of interest. These conflicts can always become existentially serious: peoples can fight over them; men can kill and die over them; in short, there can be war. And the potential for war is the origin of the political in Schmitt’s sense.
Greg Johnson, “Leo Strauss, the Conservative Revolution, and National Socialism,” Part 2.
25. According to Wikipedia:
Historically, the pillbox was also military headgear, often including a chin strap, and can still be seen on ceremonial occasions in some countries, especially former members of the Commonwealth. For example, the Royal Military College of Canada dress uniform includes a pillbox hat. A pillbox cap, also referred to as a kilmarnock, is a modern manufacture of the traditional headdress worn by members of virtually all Gurkha Regiments. During the late Roman Empire, the pillbox, then known as the pilleus or “Pannonian cap” was worn by Roman soldiers.
26. Halston’s use of so-called “African-American” models had nothing to do with modern multi-culti notions or affirmative action. “I wanted the best girl I could get, the best girls in America.” That included Midwestern blondes as well, even from Detroit. Partly based on his pro-Americanism, which we’ll discuss soon, it is mostly due to his Aristocratic Radicalism, itself fully in line with American ideas of “natural aristocracy,” promoted by Jefferson and Emerson (one of Nietzsche’s favorite authors, by the way). See von Tounton, pp. 21ff. The model interviewed for the film, Pat Cleveland, like Andre Talley, clearly belongs to what W. E. B. Dubois would call “the talented tenth.”
Spengler incurred the wrath of NS Germany when, in The Hour of Decision, he mocked biological notions of race and emphasized the far more important notion of “having race”: a mestizo like Hugo Chavez is a man of race, unlike a nominally White globalist; the former can be our ally, the latter is the enemy. Evola also contrasted “zoological” notions of race with his own ideas of physical, psychological and spiritual race, for which he too was declared persona non grata in NS Germany.
Interestingly too, the contemporary work von Taunton relies most on for her discussion of Nietzsche’s Aristocratic Radicalism is The Challenge of Aristocratic Radicalism by N. A. Tobias, a black scholar at the University of Michigan. Also, Halston’s personal disinterest, contrary to the stereotype of “fashion designers,” is what enabled him to field a group of Halstonettes that was, despite the uniformity of dress, quite “diverse” for its time; it is the heterosexual, homophobic Judaic “porn” producers that have eventually created the truly uniform, plastic “bimbo” as a “model” for women.
27. “The Runway Battle of Versailles ’73: A Story That Needed to be Told” by Sharontina, The Runway Times, September 13, 2012. The author says the story of the event “is finally being told” which seems like a fitting response to Sudley-Smith’s earlier yet trivializing film.
28. “Nietzsche’s primary task is to create a transition point which shifts the emphasis from the old regime towards a new and eminently more useful cultural stratification.”—Von Taunton, p. 15.
29. “We are not given patterns to imitate”—Spengler, “Pessimism.”
30. It appears to be the same grey as the furniture in the famous townhouse; when asked about it by a talk-show audience member, he says it “brings people out.” We’ll revisit that guest in a moment.
31. The Halstonettes’ landing by yacht at the celebration of Halston’s contract to design Braniff’s uniforms and planes, with its conjunction of black uniforms, sea, and air recalls the quasi-Futurist and Italian air ace D’Annunzio’s pirate republic of Fiume, whose black naval uniforms—designed by D’Annunzio himself—were the clear inspiration for the famous SS uniforms, right down to the Death’s Head. See Hakim Bey’s “March on Fiume” here. Fiume is one of the historical instantiations of Bey’s concept of “Temporary Autonomous Zones,” and is obviously related to the Nietzschean Geisterkrieg, just as is Peter Gatien’s club scene to be discussed in the next section.
32. As Greg Johnson writes:
The core of a culture is a set of ideals or norms. To participate in a culture is to feel that one is part of the culture and the culture is part of oneself. It is an experience of identity. It is also an experience of commitment to the culture’s ideals, the feeling that they are obligatory, that they demand that one change one’s life. This obligation is experienced as a kind of vitalizing tension between the ideal and the reality of one’s life, leading one to master one’s passions and mobilize one’s energies toward living up to the ideal. The moral life, in short, requires cultivation within a normative culture.
—Greg Johnson, “Leo Strauss, the Conservative Revolution, and National Socialism,” Part 2.
33. Bolton, p. 86, my emphasis.
34. Did the Prince of the Air bring Halston to the heights of Olympic Towers in order to display the world before him, as in Matthew 4: 8–10?
35. “From the Disco to JC Penney: The Enduring Tragedy of Halston,” Amy Odell, New York.
36. As James Holbeyfield puts it: “These people, adapted to the white brain instead of to a piece of this beautiful earth, truly know the price of every continent and the value of none.” See his review of Werner Herzog’s Antarctic odyssey Encounters at the End of the Worldhere.
37. Parker has been pushed for decades by the Judaic media as some kind of sex symbol—despite looking more equine than aquiline—or role model for modern “liberated” women—apparently, be like promiscuous gay men—as if they were Dolly Levi promoting an unpromising spinster. She makes an interesting contrast with Anjelica Huston, an actual Halston model we see in archival footage and interviews. Her equally . . . unusual features suggest a beauty that dwells on other planes than ours; superhuman rather than subhuman, elfin rather than bestial. Like Meg Foster, it would be possible to imagine a production of LOTR where she plays Galadriel, while Parker suggests nothing more otherworldly than a wicked witch or stepmother. Only Ed Wood, appropriately enough, would cast her as the Angel of Peace.
38. And should any White group try to “loot” them, all must be tracked down and “restored” to them, even after almost a hundred years.
39. A. Nolen on Ultrasuede, here.
40. The Left has never understood how different at least some German bankers were in the ’30s, and even today talks about “bankers supporting Hitler” and comparing it to today’s so-called “corporate fascism.” As Bolton remarks, German bankers were “conscious of a national and cultural mission” unlike today’s globalists. See Bolton, p. 101.
41. On a related note, one thing Spengler warned against was “noisy self-advertisement.” It is in this light that we should view Halston’s legendary hard-partying lifestyle, which Sudler-Smith seems to think reveals his essence. On the contrary, it was a fairly deliberate marketing strategy, creating an indelible connection in the public mind between fame, celebrity, and Halston’s clothes, which he would be very happy to sell you down at Penny’s. It also serves as a release from the immense tension felt most acutely by the creator type: “The gap between the ideal and the real is bridged by a longing of the soul for perfection. This longing is a tension, like the tension of the bowstring or the lyre, that makes human greatness possible” (Greg Johnson, “Postmodernism, Hedonism and Death,” here; see also his remarks on the “vitalizing tension between the ideal and the reality of one’s life, leading one to master one’s passions and mobilize one’s energies toward living up to the ideal” in “Leo Strauss, the Conservative Revolution, and National Socialism,” Part 2, cited above). As we’ll see, Peter Gatien would try a better strategy, controlling his partying by limiting himself to occasional, secretive binges in locked hotel rooms, but would eventually be counseled to “be seen more” to create a more welcoming atmosphere; once again, the marketing strategy wins out, fatally.
42. “When a culture is eviscerated of its defining worldview, all integrity, all unity of style is lost. Cultural integrity gives way to multiculturalism, which is merely a pretentious way of describing a shopping mall where artifacts are bought and sold, mixed and matched to satisfy emancipated consumer desires: a wax museum jumping to the pulse of commerce” (Greg Johnson, “Post Modernism, Hedonism and Death,” here [my emphases]). See also Rene Guenon, “Unity versus Uniformity” in The Reign of Quantity.
43. “Spiritual and Structural Presuppositions of the European Union.” In Greg Johnson, ed., North American New Right, volume 1 (San Francisco: Counter Currents, 2012).
44. Ted Sallis writes: “We can project a future High Culture that is based on the ultimate and successful [eventual] achievement of what was previously considered to be “unattainable.” I would argue that the Christian foundation of the Faustian High Culture is responsible [for this inevitable failure of men becoming as Gods]. . . . The full development of Western Man has been restrained by an alien religion that has placed shackles on his mind and soul [Gatien will attempt to revive ancient pagan rites]”—Ted Sallis, “The Overman High Culture: the Future of the West,” here and reprinted in North American New Right, vol. 1.
45. See my review of de Palma’s The Untouchables for a discussion of the true, aristocratic meaning of “untouchable”” “‘God, I’m with a Heathen,’” reprinted in my The Homo and the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Politics and Popular Culture, ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).
46. Sudley-Smith doesn’t even have a clear idea of what friendship itself means; having heard Liza was at Halston’s funeral, he naively asks her what she sang; she coolly informs him that “it wasn’t about me.”
47. James Hawes recent Excavating Kafka (London: Cuercus, 2008) suggests that even Kafka got the Weinstein treatment from Brod, Buber and company; both he and Halston might have been better off burning their sketches rather than leaving it for the vultures of Kazakhstan.
48. Venner here.