Saturday, March 14, 2015

Victor Hugo x Halston

1975 display, photos by Malan Studio
Halston looking through the window of a 1976 display, photo by Malan Studio

Victor Hugo created the Halston store window displays on Madison Avenue starting in the mid 1970s. Warhol called it street theater, New York magazine called it mayhem, and Hugo simply called the windows his "weekly paintings." Most themes leaned toward the Grand Guignol, with mannequins being used as a site for fantasy, melodrama, and violence.

Just like the style of brutal eroticism in 1970s fashion photography (Bourdin, Newton, Von Wangenheim, Turbeville, etc), many NYC retail windows echoed the same sentiment. Along with Hugo, there was Candy Pratts Price for Bloomingdales and Robert Currie for Bendel's, who all constructed bold narratives that asked more questions than they answered.

Luxury and terror in a fashion image: an unlikely or now obvious pairing? Often appealing nonetheless. Shock and seduction as an allure to purchase. 

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