When the biopic series on American fashion designer Roy Halston appeared on Netflix, it presented the ideal binge-watching experience – urbane, provocative, and poignant but over all too soon – like a wild weekend whose escapades linger on in the memory. Halston was an interesting subject for such a series, being one of the major couturiers who helped put American fashion on the world map. And it didn’t hurt that his life was such a mad romp through the fashion salons and nightclubs of Manhattan, a whirlwind of artists, celebrities, fashionistas, millionaires, models, and rent boys. Scarcely a dull moment for Halston, or the vicarious viewer.
Halston was born in the Midwest, and studied art and design in Chicago where he made an early name for himself as a milliner, designing hats for both wealthy and celebrity clientele. But like many an aspiring artist with big ambitions, he had his sights set on New York, the fashion capital of America, which is where he achieved his fame and fortune, ultimately building his brand name via his chic and popular designs for style-conscious women everywhere.
Halston has an impressive horoscope, the chief features of which include two Pancha-Maha-Purusha yogas – Hamsa yoga formed by an exalted Jupiter in the 10th, and Sasha yoga with Saturn swa-rashi in the 4th. Both yogas recur from the Surya-lagna.
He also has two Dharma-Karma-Adhipati yogas. The first involves lagnesh Venus in the 8th bhava in mutual aspect with 10th lord Moon in the 2nd. Both grahas are in robust condition, Venus being swa-rashi while the Moon, although debilitated, is just a few days after being full. Significantly, this yoga is stable; aside from the mutual aspect between the Moon and Venus, only Jupiter aspects the Moon.
The second DKA yoga involves the association of 7th lord Mars with 9th lord Mercury in the 6th. This yoga is less robust, because Mars is merely ordinary while Mercury is debilitated, and not nearly so well placed. Furthermore, it is somewhat unstable, since both Saturn and Rahu influence it. Since Mars also rules the 2nd bhava, its association with trinal lord Mercury also forms a Dhana yoga.
Like many an artist, Halston had a lot of personality. He could be catty and cruel, and was indeed brutal and dismissive with many of his business associates, friends and staff over the years. The aspect of three malefics – the Sun, Mars and Saturn – upon his lagna is representative of his aggressive and sometimes-intolerant behaviors.
As far as relationships went, his private life provided a mixed review. His lagnesh Venus is strong in the 8th bhava, evoking powerful sexual desires and a hunger for larger-than-life experiences. His 7th lord Mars is ordinary and afflicted in the 6th bhava, typically a prognosis for an irregular love life, especially when the nodal axis is involved to provoke “non-traditional” relationships. Halston was gay, and aside from a lengthy relationship with Venezuelan artist Victor Hugo, enjoyed a promiscuous lifestyle among the like-minded of New York’s gay community.
As far as platonic friends went, however, he was very fortunate. His 11th lord Sun is exalted in the 7th bhava, unafflicted by any graha. He was close friends with Liza Minnelli, Martha Graham, Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger and others. From the day he designed Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat for JFK’s inauguration, he enjoyed the patronage of fashion critics, Hollywood celebrities, and Manhattan’s wealthy elite.
Money was never really anything but a temporary problem to be overcome. His earliest ventures were financed by a wealthy patron and, in later years, he joined forces with corporate America to be handsomely paid for his talent, and ultimately, his brand name. Aside from the Dhana yoga formed by Mars and Mercury, he has a remarkable trilogy of planets in the artha-sthanas that promoted, if not guaranteed, his financial success. The purushartha concept taught by Hart de Fouw entails an examination of triads in the horoscope – dharma, artha, kama, moksha – to determine whether the lords of those triads stay within their triad and, critically, enjoy some simultaneous measure of strength.
In Halston’s horoscope, see the 2nd, 6th and 10th houses that constitute the artha triad. The 2nd lord Mars is ordinary in the 6th, another artha-sthana. The 6th lord Jupiter is exalted in the 10th, another artha-sthana. The 10th lord Moon is debilitated but full in the 2nd house, another artha-sthana. Thus, all of the artha lords have circulated within their triad and two of them – Jupiter and Moon – enjoy a measure of strength. Jupiter aspects both the Moon and Mars and, in the latter’s case, also strengthens by aspect the 6th house that Jupiter owns – the place of competition. The sum of all this suggests a strong capacity to accumulate financial security.
To a lesser degree, the moksha-sthana triad advances another significant theme. The 4th lord Saturn occupies its own sign in the 4th bhava. The 8th lord Venus occupies its own sign in the 8th bhava. Although the 12th lord Mercury falls out of the moksha triad, that still leaves two moksha lords in place and, since both are strong, promotes themes of letting go, liberation and surrender. Although this may not immediately click for those who haven’t given it due thought, a strong moksha theme can manifest in sexual behavior and excess. Where else do we let go and surrender (to abandon, desire, love, etc) but in bed, or some suitable alternative? Thus, addicts and hedonists epitomize the abandonment theme, as did Halston.
Not only was he actively engaged in search of sexual euphoria, Halston also developed addictions and took substance abuse to an extreme level. Along with the smoking and drinking that was virtually obligatory among the fashion world, Halston for a time had a serious cocaine addiction. Note that 2nd lord Mars (diet) and 12th lord Mercury (loss of self) are associated with toxic Rahu in a dusthana, fueled by the aspect of (excessive indulgence) Jupiter, and engrained by the aspect of (habit-forming) Saturn.
In terms of his artistry, we find several corroborating elements in Halston’s horoscope. From the Chandra-lagna, Venus forms a Malavya yoga, promoting Venusian pursuits like the arts, including fashion design. The 3rd bhava rules learned skills and craftsmanship such as is commonly found in the charts of artists, musicians and performers of every kind. Halston’s 3rd lord is Jupiter exalted in the 10th. Jupiter’s rulership of the 6th house also gave him a competitive instinct, not only in America, but on the world’s fashion runways.
Halston was fortunate to run a good lifetime dasha sequence. Venus dasha (1945-65) saw many big changes – moving from Iowa to Chicago, attending art & design school, opening his own hat boutique, then moving to New York to become head milliner for the department store Bergdorf Goodman. Although the hat for Jackie Kennedy put him in the fashion spotlight, when the ladies’ hat market ebbed, he switched to women’s wear, after which Newsweek soon dubbed him “the premier fashion designer of all America.” As noted earlier, lagnesh Venus is strong in the 8th bhava and forms a DKA yoga with 10th lord Moon.
With private financial support from a wealthy client, Halston opened his first Madison Avenue boutique early in his Sun dasha (1965-71), and launched his ready-to-wear line, Halston Limited, the following year. His line attracted a multitude of celebrity clients, Liza Minnelli and Bianca Jagger among them, and earned him substantial sales income over the next few years. Among other things, a powerful graha in the 7th house, like his exalted Sun, is instrumental in the success of any entrepreneur, who must build relationships with venture capitalists, fashion critics and the public, all of which Halston did in this period.
His Moon dasha (1971-81) was pretty much the high-tide mark in his career. He sold his line to Norton Simon, Inc, for $16 million but remained the principal designer. Now with unlimited financial backing, he expanded into menswear, women’s accessories and, ultimately, a namesake perfume under the Max Factor brand. He also designed uniforms for Braniff International Airways, the New York Police Department, the US Olympic team, and many others. During the same period, he developed a decade-long relationship with artist Victor Hugo, but also began to party harder than he worked, and indulge heavily in cocaine. This was the heyday of Manhattan’s world-famous Studio 54, noted for its celebrity guest lists, subjectively restrictive entry policies, and open club drug use. Halston was buddies with the owner, and practically a charter member, and late nights there began to affect the quality of his work. Remember, the Moon is both debilitated and full, and the period of such a graha will typically bring “mixed” reviews.
His Mars dasha (1981-88) saw his personal and professional lives begin to unwind. After signing a $1 billion deal with JC Penney to create an “affordable” line of clothing, accessories and perfume, his name lost its cachet. His parent company, Norton Simon, was bought out by Esmark, followed by a succession of other companies, and in each change of ownership he lost more creative control until eventually, employed in name only, he was frozen out of any further design role. Meanwhile, his ex-lover Victor Hugo blackmailed him, threatening to release a private collection of sex videos to the media. Halston paid up and moved on.
In 1988 he tested positive for AIDS. He moved to California to be taken care of by family, and died in San Francisco on March 26, 1990, of Kaposi’s sarcoma, an AIDS-defining illness. He was running Rahu-Rahu. Aside from ruling such diseases, Rahu occupies his 6th bhava and is associated with a debilitated Mercury, a graha that rules the skin. Halston spent the last 18 months of his life being driven by his chauffeur up and down the West Coast, ruminating on a life that he’d lived to the hilt.
Alan Annand studied with Hart deFouw. He’s a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology and a former tutor for the British Faculty of Astrological Studies.
He’s also the author of several books. Kala Sarpa is a first-of-its-kind reference text on a unique pattern in jyotisha that is not discussed in shastra yet is part of India’s rich oral tradition. Stellar Astrology, Volumes 1-3 offer a wealth of time-tested techniques via biographical profiles, analyses of world events, and technical essays. Parivartana Yoga is a reference text for one of the most common yet powerful planetary combinations in jyotisha.
Aside from his Montreal-based crime novels, his New Age Noir crime series (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) feature astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com