Shorter Halston: 35 years ago, haute couture fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick self-destructed when he cut a billion-dollar deal with J.C. Penney to sell a downmarket line — Halston III. Upscale retailers were appalled; Bergdorf Goodman dropped Halston like a bad habit. And yet other designers eventually followed suit and didn’t suffer the same consequences.

Real-Life Lesson: Don’t be too much of a nervy pathfinder. Wait for someone else to do the revolutionary thing, wait for the results, assess the odds and then rush in when the coast is clear.

From Guy Lodge’s Sundance review: “When it relies on conventional documentary storytelling, Halston is thrilling stuff for fashion nerds, as well as a poignant character study of a misfit ultimately undone by an excessive hunger to prove himself.

“We’re largely left to surmise the struggles of his upbringing as a gay child in a conservative Des Moines family, and how they shaped the fabulous, fastidious and falsely posh-accented persona that he constructed for himself before entering the industry as a Bergdorf Goodman milliner in the 1960s — famously placing the hat on Jackie Kennedy that launched a million pillboxes. [Director Fredéric] Tcheng sweeps us infectiously through the high-living good times, as his personal line at Bergdorf’s grew into a buzzy independent fashion house, before a landmark 1973 show at no less decadent a venue than the Palace of Versailles sent him supernova.

“The beginning of the end is identified as Halston’s decision, in 1983, to literally cheapen his brand via a billion-dollar deal with JCPenney.

“This unprecedented merging of high fashion and affordable consumerism prompted a major industry backlash from which the designer never recovered, though Tcheng oddly refrains from pointing out that the present-day ubiquity of haute couture fast-fashion collaborations posthumously ensured Halston the last laugh: he had immense foresight, if not much in-the-moment business savvy.

“The necessarily slower, more somber final act of this mostly riveting ride needs whatever silver linings you can read into it, as the deposed king’s retreat from public life, and his submission to the relentless AIDS epidemic that felled too many a glittering genius of the era, are handled with grace and care. The killer blow is the revelation that most of Halston’s samples were sold off by the company’s careless buyers, denying his memory even the complete retrospective wardrobe it deserves: finally, it’s in other designers’ clothes that his artistry is most enduringly visible.”