By Nat Mingo
This viral pandemic has caused me to spend more time at home. Regretfully, instead of reading more or starting a meditation habit, I’ve been streaming television shows and movies. I finished the Matrix film trilogy and one of these films makes a reference to Alice in Wonderland’s “going down the rabbit hole.” This is exactly how I feel after watching two back to back documentaries about fashion designer Halston. I first watched Ultrasuede made by the reality show star, Whitney Sudler-Smith (who strangely could dress as SLB for Halloween). Afterwards, I watched Halston made by Frederic Tcheng. My head was abuzz with Duran references post viewing.
Halston was popular in the 1970s. He was a frequent Studio 54 visitor alongside Liza Minelli and Andy Warhol. Of course, I thought of when the band met Warhol. Nile made a pleasant ‘Ultrasuede’ appearance as
he recounted the origin story of “Le Freak”. Chic has been invited to Studio 54 by Grace Jones but was refused entry, whereupon Nile & Bernard got drunk and sang angry lyrics which morphed into “Le Freak”. From Nile’s words, Grace sounds like an interesting character. This is certainly manifested in her appearance on “Election Day”. Watching clips of the Studio 54 revelers reminds me of Simon’s quote that “Duran is that band that makes you want to dance.” I’m also reminded of my joy at seeing John playing the keyboard on “Danceophobia” during the Paper Gods tour. In retrospect, “Danceophobia” does have that pseudo-electronic disco vibe. It’s certainly not a song to dwell on; it forces you into the present.
Halston frequently wore suits with clean lines. His models were multi-ethnic and wore bright colors. The Hungry Like The Wolf, Violence of Summer and Girl Panic babes are indicative of a Halston runway. The
band’s night photo featured on the Secret Oktober 12 inch record reflects Halston’s 80s aesthetic. The crispness of Halston’s personal appearance reminds me of the early Rio period. Part of the Rio video’s allure are the brightly colored suits the band wore. Duran created an iconic suit image on the cover of Notorious. The band also created a unique suit moment during the Red Carpet Massacre tour. Those suits were striped and paint smattered. In 2016, Duran sang at the reveal of a Mazda car; the promotional pictures featured the band in iconic suits. The ZZ Top “Sharp Dressed Man” lyrics reveal the timeless appeal of suited men. Duran has certainly capitalized on this trend.
Halston decorated his New York showrooms with heavy doses of black, white and red. The New York locale seems to be important to the band. John lived there during his “I Do What I Do” period. The band had their
only “Members Only” fan show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. Duran tends to use the red, black, and white palette as well. I thought John referenced this color trio during his college year. This trio is heavily
featured in the “My Own Way” and “The Reflex” videos. The band has revisited these three colors on their new items in the web shop. I desperately want the white 2020 baseball cap. It will be interesting to see if these colors appear on the upcoming album.
Unfortunately, Halston lost his rights to his company and name. At the time, he thought a commercial deal would enlarge his fashion impact. Duran doesn’t retain complete rights to their earliest music. I have mixed
emotions when I hear an early Duran song in a movie or a commercial. It’s great to hear a favorite song in an unexpected manner. It’s not so great to hear good music being used to hawk unrelated products. Fortunately, Duran has retained their rights to their contemporary music. I trust Mr. Rhodes will guard their music licenses accordingly.
I’m probably overthinking the Halston-Duran relationship. This is what happens when you’ve been inside for too long! Thank you for reading this mental “rabbit hole” blog. I hope you and yours are thriving indoors and out.