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Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston (2010)

Halston , Billy Joel , Whitney Sudler-Smith  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Halston, Billy Joel, Liza Minnelli, Diane Von Furstenberg, André Leon Talley
  • Directors: Whitney Sudler-Smith
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Tribeca
  • DVD Release Date: May 29, 2012
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006QVRV1I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,960 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Moving. --Vogue

Must-see film --Fashion Week Daily

This film has a grander trajectory than just about any other fashion doc. --Entertainment Weekly

Product Description

Product Description

A fascinating portrait of the rise and fall of America's first celebrity designer: Halston, the man who was synonymous with fashion in the 1970s, and became the emperor of New York City nightlife. Interviews with friends and witnesses (including Liza Minnelli, Diane Von Furstenberg, André Leon Talley, Anjelica Huston, Bob Colacello, and Billy Joel, among others) round out this glittering evocation of the man who defined the most beautiful and decadent era of recent memory.

Special Features

  • An Interview with Director Whitney Sudler-Smith and Producer Adam Bardach, presented by American Express
  • Deleted Scene: GQ Interview

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More Halston, less director June 9, 2012
I gave up watching this poorly edited, poorly researched documentary after 10 minutes. I have no idea why Whitney Smith was so interested in Halston; his mother thinks is because he loved to watch Smokey and the Bear. WHAT??? Like the 10 minutes of this film I could stand, that was bewildering and off-putting.

Smith interviews Liza Minelli and tells her she was Halston's only friend at the time he died; she corrects him, and says that Liz Taylor, among others was there. She says she gave Halston his memorial service; Smith asks her what she sang; Liza replies that she didn't sing because the event was about Halston, not her. Couldn't Smith have looked up any newspaper clippings of the event?

He finds Halston's archives in boxes, unpacked at a Bible university in Nashville. Georgette Mosbacher, the head of Halston/Borghese, says her mother lives in Nashville, which is why I'm assuming the archives went there; she can deduct the cost of seeing her mother as a business expense to 'check on the archives'. Smith remarks that he has seen the archives, but doesn't ask why nothing has been done with them. No displays, the boxes were basically thrown in a room. Mosbacher obviously doesn't know or care what is being done to preserve the archives, and Smith isn't interested in enlightening her. Why?

Smith has lunch with Andre Leon Talley, and, again, hasn't done his research. He asks ALT who else he should interview! He also interrupts ALT, but is put in his place. Also, the racist anthem 'Dixie' is Smith's ring tone, and he has the Confederate flag on his license plate. I'm sure it's just a Southern Pride thing, right?

I had to turn off the movie when Smith wears aviator sunglasses, inside, to interview Ralph Rucci.

Please let someone else make a documentary of quality about Halston! This one surely cannot be the last word.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
There is no denying that the designer known simply as Halston (actually Roy Halston Frowick) led a life of drama, excess, and glamour worthy of remembrance. After climbing to stunning heights, he ruled the fashion scene of the seventies before a precipitous career plunge brought him back to earth with a crash. It's an incredible story, to be sure, and one that is well told in the documentary "Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston." Based on an incredible life story and career, it is almost impossible not to recommend this glimpse back at an icon. His tale is related through interviews, archival footage, and really recaptures the allure of the man and his legend. I am no fashionista and had no particular previous interest in Halston, but I was captivated by the world that "Ultrasuede" transported me to. And so, it is an easy recommendation.

That being said, though, the picture was made by Whitney Sudler-Smith. Instead of structuring a more conventional documentary, Sudler-Smith inserts himself into the narrative arc. He is front and center throughout, and this sometimes adds an awkwardness that is slightly off-putting. When introducing himself, he says he has an interest in Halston and the seventies. He has no particular personal connection to the project other than this interest, so it seems odd for him to be a central character in the piece. Oftentimes, his interviews seem poorly researched and amateurish. Several celebrities call him on this lack of professionalism, some are amused by it. Ultimately, I warmed to him but found him somewhat distracting at the start. And in the film's last third, he loses track of Halston for a large stretch of the movie because he wants to talk about Studio 54 (much beyond Halston's attendance).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "In Search of Halston"...Keep Searching July 29, 2012
I found great reproach within the 89 minutes of this documentary. Generally there was fault with the way the information was presented, with almost no research on the subject, the interviews seem haphazardly put together, and the narrator/director is awkward. Clearly this work was conducted by a fledgling who lacks artistic ability or in the least organizational abilities. It is presented in such a blasé manner as if the director was indifferent to the outcome of the footage. If done correctly the film would have been praised a complete gesamtkunstwerk in documentary cinema.

The film is basically a collection of unorganized and poorly researched interviews. Even some of the people he interviews point this out to him! Whitney Sudler-Smith sits there staring in a bewildered stupor as he interviews people occasionally asking random superficial questions expecting the interviewee to magically tell him everything he wants to know. He seems awkward and influenced by whatever people say with no resolute position on Halston or the aim of the film. The best part of this film is that we are taken into Halston's 63st home in NYC for a small segment.

It is greatly unfortunate that an admirable subject was presented in such a lackadaisical manner in which it produced a campy film that could have been covered deeply with concrete questions and substance and less tangential reportage.

However apart from these criticisms the value of the film is that it outlines Roy Halston's contributions to the global perspective of American fashion. Providing the viewer at least with an incredulous, yet still maintaining a archaic vision of fashion in the 70's and Halston's substantial role in producing simple elegant American style.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars The movie carries despite the filmmaker!
The glimpses of fashion, vintage footage and great interview subjects are the most redeeming quality of this film. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Elise Soliday
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Halton
Fun and sometimes Camp documentary. Gives us a peek into the crazy world that was Halston's. Great vintage footage and provocative interviews.
Published 1 month ago by MisterMike
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I'm shallow TOO!
Personally, I got just enough information about Halston to keep it interesting... and I thought the shallowness of the documentary's style was a sublime nod to the shallowness of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Klutch
1.0 out of 5 stars Halston deserves a better film
Having worked with Halston in the 80s, I have to agree with the review by History Lover. This was a shallow and ill researched film which featured more of Whitney Smiths vapid... Read more
Published 6 months ago by jwveneto
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle and fun look into the life of an artist and trailblazer
By the time I was old enough to know the name 'Halston', he was already in free fall. However, I could see the respect that the fashion world had for him. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amber Vyn
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype
I really liked this video, but even though it was fun (you get a sense of what a unique time the 70's were,) I think that most of all I loved the vintage footage and the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Terri
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see for Halston fans....but
I could not wait to see "Ultrasuede", but some things drove me crazy about it! First of all it was more about Whitney-Sudler Smith and his suits, his sunglasses, his (I must say... Read more
Published 20 months ago by A. Rucker
5.0 out of 5 stars The Back Story Behind the Headlines.......
If you are of the generation who remembers Halston as the most talked about fashion designer to the stars then this documentary will fill in the back story many of us didn't know. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Donna S. Webb
5.0 out of 5 stars GeorgeMurleyUltraSuede
Outstanding! Awesome! A definite must buy for any fashionista who serious about their fashion video library and is worth it!
Published 20 months ago by George Murley
4.0 out of 5 stars Halston was a genius
I watched this on demand on Amazon and then purchased it because I love anything about fashion design and designers. Read more
Published on July 16, 2012 by passionatereader
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