"He called me 'The Moth,' " Pat Cleveland told our audience at the panel discussion after a private screening of Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston at FashionOpolis on January 26.
A memorable night for all who attended, not only to have watched the film, but to meet the director, Whitney Sudler-Smith, fashion stylist and author Phillip Bloch, and the legendary Pat Cleveland - aka “The Moth.”
The film was a tribute to the elusive Halston; a man who is admired and often copied but none the less revered for his undeniable talent and impact on what was to be the future of fashion.
Ahead of his time and the darling of the fashion elite, he wanted to expand his horizons beyond Bergdorf Goodman and sought to bring his vision to a world that he thought eager to embrace a new elegance. His collaboration with JC Penney failed and that precipitated his fall from grace as he was scorned by the fashion elite, who wanted to keep fashion to themselves. A badge to wield as armor, which was not his vision at all, he became the unwitting victim of the excesses of the seventies.
The film not only captured great personal anecdotes from inner circle friends including Liza Minnelli, Stephen Burrows and Pat Cleveland, but also gave us entré to the decade that gave us Studio 54, The Factory, the rise of celebrity and cast the first shadows of AIDS, which was to be a scourge to a generation.
The audience was able to travel back in time and bear witness to a world that will not be forgotten; the music, the parties, and of course, Ultrasuede.
Once the film ended we were entertained and enlightened by our celebrity panel that included the director and two of the people featured in the film: Phillip Bloch and Pat Cleveland. All three could not have been more candid and genuine in their responses. From the frank answers of Whitney, to the memories of Studio 54 shared by Phillip Bloch, to the honest insights provided by the legendary Pat Cleveland, who spoke of her friend Halston with love and the desire to still protect him from harm. A friend even now, Pat Cleveland offered her humanity to his memory and held the entire room captive by her charm.
Oh, and why “The Moth”? Because she would move down the catwalk towards the light, in billowing chiffon dresses he made specially for her. She seemed to flutter and pause unaware of the audience and responding as if transformed into a moth; delicate and ephemeral, an icon to be remembered. A great night at LIM College and one I will always remember.