Monday, 8 March 2021

STEPHAN'S SIX - JULIE HALSTON


How do you introduce someone like Julie Halston? She’s an award winning American actress and comedienne, she’s kept us entertained online during a “global pandemic” courtesy of Virtual Halsten, and her list of credits include everything from Hairspray to Sex and The City. Never one to shy away from a one-liner, I thought it was time to find out a little more about this Flushing girl and ask her “Stephan's Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
It was vanilla and it was the smell of baking cookies, or any “baked goods” for that matter, and the scent never fails to make me feel better. My mother also really loved the smell of vanilla and so I associated with her. That’s the first that I remember, and still love.

What perfumes did your mum and dad wear?
My dad didn’t really use cologne, although he’d graciously wear something once if it was a Christmas present, but he did partake of Old Spice for a while. It was a nice fragrance, and I did like the smell when I'd hug him, but even that kind of petered out after a while. But my mom, her fragrance was White Shoulders by Evyan. It’s a real classic of the time and it was her absolute favourite. She tried Tabu for a while, and even attempted Prince Matchabelli‘s Wind Song, but she always went back to White Shoulders. Later in life, when you could only find White Shoulders in places like the Vermont Country Store catalogue, she literally just went and got a cheap vanilla body mist in Duane Reade, but I’ll always think of her wearing White Shoulders.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
It was Pavlova by Payot, and I bought into it hook, line, and sinker. I got the moisturiser, the powder, and the perfume, because I was sold on the whole idea of layering. It wasn't cheap in those days, and I loved the whole idea of the Russian ballerina, but the truth is that it did kind of drive people a little crazy. I remember a man saying “You smell so good,” and I said “Well it’s all about the layering.” I think he was quizzical after that, and perhaps a little turned off, but it didn’t stop us! So it was a good memory quite frankly. I smelled it years later on a trip to Saint Kitts, it was still very popular in the Caribbean, but it wasn't the same. There’s a real magic when you first discover something, but it’s not always there when you return to it.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
I was in my late twenties, perhaps early thirties, and I tried to go back to my youth with musk. I’d remembered being stoned and wearing it, that kind of patchouli moment, and so I bought a musk oil. First off it spilled on my blouse, which then had to be thrown out, so that did not start well. Second of all nobody liked the smell ... including me! The last time I’d worn it I was probably seventeen - and actually stoned! It was a big mistake, and my friends were like, “Why do you smell of bad weed?” And I was like, “I think it’s the musk oil.” So I got rid of it, and had a ruined blouse into the bargain.

You can only choose one perfume?
I’m going to say Private Collection from Estée Lauder. I loved it, I really loved it, and I think I got on to it because Aerin Lauder was hawking it at the time. I loved the look, that lovely natural kind of image, and it was a really beautiful fragrance. I wore that one for years, and I could wear it forever. I think it’s the earthiness that somehow appealed to me, because I always feel that it’s a little more like the body, and I vividly remember the column bottle. The only reason that I stopped wearing fragrance was because my husband, whom I married in 1992, was very allergic to a lot of perfumes. So that kind of put the kibosh on it. However, whenever I was doing a show I could wear something in my dressing room because by the time I got home it had died down, so he wouldn’t smell it.

What perfume should I try?
Well, you seem so open and fun and erudite, and you have the British accent and what not, but I wonder if there’s something a little risque under the surface? You know Rudi Gernreich, who created the topless bathing suit, did he ever create a fragrance? [He actually did and it launched the year I was born!] Actually Darling, I think you should try Halston Z-14, because you strike me as someone who has a modern sensibility but is also kind of classic. That’s the same thing I loved about Halston the person. There was something so brilliant about what he did with clothes, and every woman looked pretty damn good in them. We all know that Halston had a lot of fun, maybe too much fun, and I’ve seen those gowns in Liza’s closet!

For more information about Julie, and to watch the latest edition of Virtual Halston, you can visit the Cast Party Network at bit.ly/CastPartyNetwork.

[Photograph of Julie Halston © Bill Westmoreland]

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