Thursday, 13 May 2021

HALSTON Z-14 by Vincent Marcello and Max Gavarry

If you think about the vast number of fragrances that are launched every year you’ll understand why securing a following is so important. The constant stream of new releases can potentially result in us switching our allegiance to the new kid on the block, and then it’s very hard to tempt us back. It wasn’t always like this. In the past, the launches every year were only in double figures, and that actually may be one of the reasons why some have stood the test of time. One such fragrance is Halston Z-14 and, as it celebrates its forty-fifth birthday, I thought it was time to see whether the years had been kind.

Halston is still probably best known as one of the most influential designers of the seventies. His clothes were seen as the pinnacle of fashion and attracted both the rich and famous. Between 1968 and 1973 his company generated a reported $30 million, so you can see just how important Iowa born Roy Halston Frowick had become. The sale of his company, and name, to Norton Simon Industries in 1973 saw him go truly international, and the first ideas of a fragrance collection were raised. He would go on to launch the female Halston by Halston in 1975, but the following year saw the arrival of a male duo.

I’ll pause a moment and say that the story of Halston is an incredible rollercoaster of triumph over adversity, decisions that were ahead of their time, and a big dose of partying. All of his achievements seemed to unfortunately be taken away from him one after the other, partly due to uncontrollable stubbornness and partly due to the successive selling of the company, but he still gained a legendary status. His fascinating story has just been filmed by Netflix, starring Ewan McGregor and directed by Daniel Minahan, and premieres on May 14th 2021. However, let’s travel back forty-five years to 1976.

The success of Halston by Halston meant that a masculine fragrance was inevitable, and the company again approached IFF to create the scent. This time it was entrusted to Vincent Marcello and Max Gavarry, but Halston couldn’t decide between the final two submissions. So, with typical extravagance he released both. Halston Z-14 and Halston 1-12 launched together, the names actually being the perfumers’ original reference numbers, but it was the former that became the most popular. Reformulations over the years may have dulled the fragrance's lustre, but I still think that Roy Halston Frowick would be proud.

Halston Z-14 opens with a fantastic burst of lemon and bergamot but very quickly an aromatic quality starts to come through in the form of a lavender and coriander combination. This crisp, cologne-like opening is deepened with an earthy geranium alongside the first glimpses of the resinous patchouli base that is to follow. It’s interesting that a dry cedarwood then seems to peep through, just before the famous clove and cinnamon pairing, and then we dive headlong into a seventies leather and amber duo that hints at those late nights and hot bodies in New York’s Studio 54. You do get a return of the earthy aromas thanks to the vetiver, but it’s a final trail of sweet, powdery moss that tells you the party is over... or perhaps it's just beginning?

Halston Z-14 is generally available in most countries and can also be found on Amazon priced at £18 for 125ml or £22 for 236ml. You can read my review of the original Halston by Halston by clicking on the image below. [Bottle was purchased]


  1. I heard that they overdid the cinnamon note in the reformulated version, sadly.

    1. Hello Keith, thank you for your comment. I'd read about the cinnamon note as well before I wrote this review but, happily, didn't find it to be the case at all. I genuinely wear the current formulation nearly every day and think that it's fantastic. Best, Stephan