Vera Neumann (née Salaff) was the third of four children born to Fanny and Meyer Salaff, Jewish Russian immigrants who had settled in Stanford, Connecticut. Vera was an adventurous child who loved the outdoors; she displayed her creativity from a very young age, sketching the nature scenes she saw in her everyday life. In 1928, after graduating from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Vera enrolled in Manhattan’s Traphagen School of Design, where she explored the possibilities of a career in design.
Halston was thrown into the limelight when Jacqueline Kennedy wore his pillbox hat to John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Soon Halston expanded into women’s wear, creating both couture and ready-to-wear fashion catering to the fashionable and elite jet set. Halston also accepted the honor of designing the 1976 US Olympic team uniforms, redesigned Braniff Airlines’ uniforms in 1977, and created uniforms for the New York Police Department and the Girl Scouts in 1978.
Halston was innovative, using slinky knit material and ultrasuedes, and introducing a halter dress design that elongated a wearer’s silhouette. He pioneered the sensual and soft draped looks associated with disco and his beloved Studio 54.