Netflix dropped another mini series last week, and if you’re a follower of all things fashion, then you’ve either already binged the entire season or are going to after reading this. Halston is a five-episode limited series that follows the American fashion designer mononymously known as Halston as he tries to balance the ever-tilting scale of art making and money-making.
Set in the height of the disco era and starring Ewan McGregor, the show is loosely based on Halston’s real-life rise and fall from fashion fame. While certain aspects of his life were overly dramatized, one major story line that producer Ryan Murphy got correct was Halston’s struggle with the right to use his own name (that, and according to Vanity Fair, the designer’s bestie status with Liza Minnelli). In an attempt to expand his fashion empire, Halston licensed his coveted singular moniker, and ultimately lost control of it.
As as I watched it, I couldn’t help but draw similarities between his story and the modern-day licensing battle taking place in the wedding industry right this very minute. Bridal fashion tycoon JLM Couture, which houses several award-winning wedding dress brands, from Lazaro to Allison Webb, is in the middle of a major legal controversy with one of their most well-known designers, Hayley Paige.
Known for her youthful, whimsical, and romantic-styled gowns, Gutman started designing for JLM in 2011. Her bubbly personality and designs shot her to fashion-stardom fame quickly for her age. Hayley Paige dresses have been worn by a variety of celebs, such as Bachelor and Bachelorette stars, Say Yes to the Dress contestants, as well as everyday brides who just want a stylish and flirty, ultra-fem wedding-day look.
But in December of 2020, Gutman rocked the bridal industry when she revealed she was resigning from the company. In an emotional video posted to Instagram, she explained that after trying to negotiate a new contract with the bridal company and gain control over her @misshayleypaige social media accounts, she wound up with a lawsuit. JLM sued Gutman for her personal use of the company’s social media accounts, which JLM owns.
According to Insider, Gutman’s legal troubles resulted from her decision to license her name to JLM. The media outlet obtained a complaint filed by JLM’s attorney in December 2020, which stated that Gutman’s 2011 contract with JLM allowed the company “the exclusive world-wide right and license to use her name ‘Hayley’, ‘Paige’, ‘Hayley Paige Gutman’, ‘Hayley Gutman’, ‘Hayley Paige’, or any derivative thereof […] in connection with the design, manufacture, marketing and/or sale of bridal clothing, bridal accessories, and related bridal and wedding item.” Gutman, in response, has argued that the social media accounts she created in her name did not apply to the contract, according to Insider.
Though Halston’s story doesn’t involve the era of social media, ultimately, the two shine a light on the costs and legalities of monetizing one’s name.