Off Center

May 23, 2010 • Magazine

Off Center

Off Center

Tue, 2000-05-23 06:00

Bonnie J Brown

When it comes to fashion, symmetry is more often than not a deciding factor if a garment is flattering to the feminine figure. Designers use balance and proportion to make their clothing aesthetically appealing, however, the emerging trend of one-sleeved garments and asymmetrical dresses is making a comeback. The one shoulder dress, with its biased cut and lack of regard for balance in the traditional sense, is once again all the rage. Yet, this asymmetrical design element often requires a higher skill set in draping and the ability to do away with frivolous accouterments. Instead simplicity of design and diagonal lines are what bring out the elegance of the garment.

The ancient Roman toga is obviously the first garment to feature this cut; yards upon yards of fabric were wrapped and draped about the figure to create a loose gown for men and women alike, although eventually it only became suitable for men to wear. There was little to no sewing involved so it’s no wonder that athletes during that time often performed naked and any physical labor was done in a simple tunic. Because of all the fabric, togas could be quite burdensome, but it was considered the only appropriate form of dress of the time. Yet however innovative and respected the toga was, it was Roy Halston Frowick, a.k.a. Halston, who ultimately perfected the asymmetrical look. His gowns with off-centered features were worn by Bianca Jagger, Anjelica Huston, Lauren Bacall and other beauties from the 1970s and his gowns, now considered vintage, are still worn by many celebrities today.

Before this point in history, most fashions were still coming from Paris, but Halston was one of the first designers to put the U.S. on the map in the world of fashion. While Halston began his career as a milliner, he designed Jackie Kennedy’s famous pillbox hat worn during JFK’s 1961 presidential inauguration, Halston became most famous for his long dresses worn during the 1970’s disco-era. Newsweek even wrote that he was “the premier fashion designer of all America.” His designs, unlike that of other designers of the time (think Emilio Pucci and his vibrant patterns), often incorporated solid colors of simple flowing fabrics that would lay in the most flattering of lines. His pajama pants, plunging v-necks and one-shoulder baring garments could be described as effortless glamour. His apparel was also made available to every day women with his licensing agreement with JC Penney, a rare and bold move made during that era and something that hadn’t previously been attempted.

Even though Halston the man and designer was forced out of his own company and banned from designing under the Halston name in 1984 because of his drug and alcohol abuse, Halston the company continued to design clothing using the same aesthetic. Even today, Halston is known for their accessibly chic design techniques and with the re-emergence of the off-kilter trend we can certainly expect to see them enter back into the limelight. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to hire famed Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker, who was just recently named president and chief creative officer for Halston. SJP is known for her fashion sense and unique and fashion forward take on clothing, so I’m excited to see where Halston goes from here, off centered or not.

1. Halston 1994
2. Halston 2000
3. Halston Fall 2009
4. Halston Spring 2002
5. Halston Spring 2010
6. Rachel Zoe in Vintage Halston

Image Layout: Tiffany Carlin

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