Fashion Designer Halston Had a Major Influence on Disco Culture and 1970s Interior Design Trends

Ryan Murphy’s New Series Halston Reignites a Modern Love of 1970s Design 

After scrolling through Netflix the other day, principal interior designer Amity Kett noticed a new title on her recommended watch list—Halston. This new miniseries by Ryan Murphy brings to life the iconic fashion designer Halston, who is known for redefining the world of fashion in the 1970s. He dressed Liza Minnelli, discoed at Studio 54, and threw lavish cocaine-filled parties with Andy Warhol at his New York apartment. When looking at design trends in the 2020s, it is clear to see a return of 1970s style, of which Halston was a huge influence. The 1970s and 80s are also dominating pop culture, with reboots of classic shows and new biographical series like Halston. So far, our San Antonio interior designers and architects have looked into remerging 70s trends like cane furniture, cork flooring, and psychedelic design. Now, the residential design team at our San Antonio studio dives into Halston’s influence on disco culture, 1970s interior design, and 70s inspired interiors trending today.  

Watch the Halston Trailer

A Brief History of Fashion Designer Halston 

Roy Halston Frowick, mononymously known as Halston, set out to change the face of 70s fashion during the disco era. Starting from humble beginnings in the rural midwest, Halston forged a name for himself in the New York fashion scene, befriending and designing for celebrities like Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, and even Jackie Kennedy. His fashion designs embraced minimalism and simplicity while framing the body with elegance. Halston embodied the “less is more” theory,  sometimes designing flowing dresses from a single piece of fabric. Brilliantly encapsulating a decade focused on liberation, style, and fun, Halston was one of the first American designers to become a household name. Many of Halston’s design principles, like a focus on comfort, simplicity, and seamless day-to-nightwear transitions, remain relevant today. 

Here is a sample of Halston dresses from the disco era.
Photo from Netflix

Halston’s style influence of the decade extended well beyond the fashion industry. He became known in the New York socialite scene, partying with celebrities at Studio 54 and hosting lavish parties in his elegantly styled apartment. In many ways, he defined the cocaine-fueled disco culture of the era, which would ultimately contribute to the downward spiral of his empire. The interiors of his Manhattan carriage house graced the pages of LIFE Magazine and continue to influence residential interior design today. Like his fashion designs, his sleek and minimalist interiors sought to showcase the inhabitants of the space in the best way possible. In 1988, Halston tested positive for HIV and died at the age of 57 in 1990. While his life was short, his influence continues to live on today. 

Ryan Murphy Brings Back Disco Era Design with His New Netflix Series Halston

The 1970s design style is back in a big way today, including Halston-inspired interiors. This year, Ryan Murphy revived the disco era with his new Netflix series, Halston. Jeriana San Juan, the costume designer for Halston, channeled disco-era style, recreating and reimaging over 1,200 designs by Halston during the decade. The Halston brand now even has a capsule collection with Netflix, bringing back some of the designer’s most popular pieces of the 70s. Our San Antonio interior designers and architects predict that shows like Halston will influence current design trends, similar to how Mad Men played a role in bringing back the mid-century modern style in the late 2000s. While 1970s style may be trending again, that doesn’t necessarily mean that homeowners will start installing shag carpeting.      

Here is the Studio 54 set from the Halston Series
Photo from Netflix

Design Elements of Halston’s 1970s Interiors, Decor, and Style  

Like his fashion, Halston’s interior designs embodied elegance and simplicity. Using Netflix’s Halston set designs, our San Antonio interior designers and architects analyze the trending elements of Halston’s 1970s interiors. 

Elegant Minimalism 

When designing his iconic dresses, Halston stripped away buttons, zippers, and superfluous seams to create an elegant and minimalist piece that elegantly framed the body. Similarly, Halston brought simple elegance to all of his interiors, especially his New York townhouse. 

In his New York townhouse, Halston had an elegant and minimalist interior.
Photo from Netflix

Focus on the User Advantage 

Halston’s main goal was to show off people to their best advantage in both fashion and interior design. Halston’s townhouse featured a palette of neutral grays that wouldn’t compete with guests’ outfits, simple lines, and comfortable fabrics. People could relax while also looking stylish. 

Here you can see Halston with Bianca and Mic Jagger at Studio 54 in her famous red dress against the dark grey interior.
Photo by Robin Platzer

Bold Colors That Act as Neutrals 

While Halston’s townhome was designed with cool neutrals, he wasn’t afraid to embrace bold color. His office in the ultramodern Olympic Tower building was on the 21st floor with a view over the St. Patrick’s Cathedral. While the outside bustled, the interior was grounded in a rich vermillion red. The widespread application of this bold color on carpets, lacquered tables, and textiles allowed it to act as a neutral. 

Use of Texture

Unlike his iconic red office, Halston’s first office space featured a neutral color palette of whites that relied on texture for definition. The room included a white industrial ceiling with exposed beams, natural sisal rugs, cane chairs, and creamy cashmere textiles.  

Halston’s first office had a neutral color palette of whites.
Photo from Netflix

Visual Consistency 

Halston valued visual consistency that didn’t distract from the beauty of the individuals, whether they were wearing his clothes or lounging in his living room. Halston rented Andy Warhol’s Montauk compound and redesigned it to fit his aesthetic, bringing in consistent textiles like white canvas. 

Montauk Compond
Photo from Netflix

Backward Book Shelving 

At some point, it became trendy again to shelve books backward with the pages facing out rather than the spines. While this trend has picked up steam on Instagram and blogs over the past few years, Halston started it in the 70s at Warhol’s Montauk home. To create a more peaceful look without visual interruption, he turned all the books in the house with the pages facing out, forming consistent blocks of white pages rather than a rainbow of titles.  

Halston turned all the books in the house with the pages facing out to create the backward book shelf.
Photo by Alyssa Rosenhack from Elle Decor

Timelessness Unaffected by Outside Trends

Halston’s interiors designed in the 1970s still have a contemporary feel decades later. That is because good design is timeless and focuses on the user experience rather than outside trends. In Halston’s spaces, he continually fights to create a separate world removed from the bustle and chaos of 70s New York. His controlled designs highlight individuals and serve as catalysts to great conversations and great parties. 

Halston’s Red Office Interior
Photo from Netflix

1970s Trends are Back in the 2020s 

So, why is 1970s style from designers like Halston trending again in the 2020s? Our San Antonio interior designers and architects think a lot of it has to do with how interior design changed during COVID. After spending so much time inside, homeowners now recognize the importance of design centered around the user, which is the basis of Halston’s style. There is also a renewed interest in nostalgia, and a refocus on comfort. Interiors are becoming more joyful places that reject the stresses and problems of the outside world and instead embrace playful fun. After all, what is more fun than disco? 

Halston Home Today
Photo from EV

Trends of the 70s can be seen today in cane furnishings, vibrant colors, and even macrame. High-profile celebrities and designers are also embracing the 1970s revival. In 2019, Halston’s house was purchased by modern trendsetter Tom Ford. With this nod of approval, we think it’s safe to say that the 70s are back

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