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Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston

3.5 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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(May 29, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

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


Moving. --Vogue

Must-see film --Fashion Week Daily

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

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.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    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 (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006QVRV1I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,443 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I wanted to view this film after reading that the producer of Ultrasuede had strongly (and wrongly) inserted himself into the storyline. I was curious as to how he tried to manage a sense of objectivity but in reality the whole movie comes down to being solely about his own confused, narcissistic life, not Halston's. And it is a bizarre approach given that his likability quotient from the get go is pretty much zero stars. It helps a little that Sudler-Smith shows early on that he is from a very wealthy family in Charleston where as a child, according to his mother, watching Smokey and The Bandit re-runs nourished his precocious interest in fashion. It also explains why there seems to be no budgetary restraints in place during production and post-production. I picture an immaculate cutting room floor. As for pre-production costs it appears that no money was spent in this phase since Sudler-Smith is perpetually clueless when it comes to the what is supposed to be the subject of his movie. The many famous people he interviewed were likely lined up through the Charleston matriarch connection but boy were they lined up! Lots of famous faces. But he goes into the interviews so ill informed that the interviewees, such as Liza Minnelli, must correct and inform him regarding the most basic aspects of Halston's life. It's as if Sudler-Smith's research had consisted of hearing over a couple of drinks that the 1970s in NYC was a fun decade and whoo hoo Studio 54. Me like sex, drugs and disco music! Look at me!!
One could try to label the movie as a self serving ironic camp comedy but given Sudler-Smith's "Dixie" ring tone and the confederate flag on the license plate of his car that he zoom-zooms around NYC, it's difficult to see any aspect of this person as funny - or acceptable.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston" is Ultrabad.

Director Whitney Sudler-Smith has created an unfocused, uninformed, and uninspired film purportedly about Halston. However, it becomes very obvious, after only the first 15 minutes, that the "director," has not a clue about (nor a desire to understand) the man who, from his early days as a milliner at Bergdorf Goodman to his position as an uber designer and arbiter of timeless fashion, is responsible for bringing beauty, elegance, and grace to America, not to mention the rest of the world.

Mr. Sudler-Smith is not only a bad "director" but he is unprofessional and a terrible reporter. He constantly interrupts his interviewees when they are answering his ill-founded questions. He unsuccessfully attempts to change the focus from Halston to Diana Vreeland during one interview. His "Dixie" playing cellphone interrupts the flow of another interview. Not to mention, throughout the documentary, his outlandish makeup, hair, and wardrobe changes become more distracting and unappealing with each passing scene.

Apparently, Liza Minnelli's early suggestion to "do some research" fell on Mr. Sudler-Smith's deaf ears.

All of this begs the question, "when will we receive an informative, intelligent, and quality-made documentary deserving of Halston's magnificently sublime creations?"

Not recommended.
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Format: DVD
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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