How did Halston die? A look back at the late designer's fashionable life

People are wondering 'How did Halston die' and 'Is Halston still a brand' after watching the Netflix miniseries

EWAN MCGREGOR as HALSTON in episode 102 of HALSTON
(Image credit: ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA/NETFLIX)

Streaming subscribers and style fiends alike have found their latest obsession in the Halston series on Netflix.

Now that the late fashion designer is once again taking over headlines, fans are digging into every aspect of his life and asking, "How did Halston die?" "Is Halston still a brand?" and so on. We'll fill you in on everything you need to know about the fashion icon before you binge Halston, Netflix's addicting new show.  

What did Halston die from?

Roy Halston Frowick, known simply as Halston, died in 1990 in San Francisco at age 57, two decades after the heyday of his namesake fashion house, which dressed everyone from Liza Minelli to Bianca Jagger, Anjelica Huston to Elizabeth Taylor throughout the '70s. 

According to an obituary in The Los Angeles Times, Halston passed away due to complications from AIDS-related lung cancer (Kaposi’s sarcoma involving the lungs), two years after testing positive. His brother Robert was quoted in the piece and stated that the designer had been struggling with his health for roughly a year and a half before his passing.

The Associated Press reported that Halston donated his beloved Rolls Royce to fund AIDS research before he died. 

BILL PULLMAN as DAVID MAHONEY, KRYSTA RODRIGUEZ as LIZA MINNELLI, EWAN MCGREGOR as HALSTON, and MICAH PEOPLES as STEPHEN BURROWS in episode 102 of HALSTON

(Image credit: ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA/NETFLIX)

Did Halston die poor?

Fans are curious about what came of Halston's wealth after his passing, largely due to the controversies surrounding his name brand, his excessive spending habits, and his problematic socializing, which included drug use and sex parties. 

In 1973, the designer okayed a $16-million deal with Norton Simon Inc. for his ready-to-wear line, his couture line, and the Halston trademark. This move marked the beginning of the end of his career, as it didn't allow him to have control over the designs or what styles were tacked onto his name.

After he created a low-budget line with JCPenney in the early '80s, he was soon dropped by Bergdorf Goodman, the luxury department store where he began his career. Around this time, Halston's disastrous professional and personal relationship with Victor Hugo unfolded, and some allege that this contributed to his downfall. 

Halston's financial situation at his time of death has not been explicitly revealed, but several sources report that despite his later-in-life economic woes, he was still worth a whopping $100 million at the time of his death. 

ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA/NETFLIX

(Image credit: Netflix)

Is Halston still a brand?

Halston made a name for himself for perfecting Ultrasuede looks, experimenting with styles like halter tops, catering his pieces to all sizes, and designing Jackie O's famous pillbox hat that she wore to her husband's inauguration. The Halston brand still lives on, but getting it back to the same level it was during its 1970s heyday has yet to happen. 

Interest in the designer has grown as the recently-released show gains popularity. However, the late icon's family isn't necessarily pleased with the way in which he is being depicted. 

“In actuality, our uncle Halston was a very private, dignified gentleman, and it is my hope that he will be remembered and respected as such,” Halston’s niece Leslie Frowick, who is the director of the Halston Personal Archives, revealed to The Guardian

For those who are interested in seeing the rise and fall of the fashionisto—at least in showbiz terms—can stream Halston on Netflix, or if you want some Halston style in your own life, see our edit of fashion pieces below:

Danielle Valente
Danielle Valente

Danielle is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. When she's not working, you can find her experimenting with new recipes or sitting on the couch with a good book and a cup of coffee.