Roy Halston Frowick’s groundbreaking designs contributed to the origins of American luxury fashion. The inventor of Ultrasuede, his designs were simple and sophisticated with the purpose of making women feel beautiful in the clothing they wore. But a few bad decisions led to the fall of one of the greatest of all time.
The Netflix five-part miniseries from Ryan Murphy set out to explore the life of the man known only as Halston from his roots in Indiana all the way until his death of the AIDS-defining disease Kaposi’s sarcoma in San Francisco in 1990. Beyond exploring his career as whole, it also dives into the tumultuous relationships that followed Halston throughout his life and all that came from them — good and bad. The stroke of genius that Halston held within him did not come without its demons, and Halston takes a look at the life led by one of the best to ever grace the fashion world.
The story spans several decades, with flashbacks to Halston’s life as a young child, that begin in 1961 during his milliner days as the creator of Jackie Kennedy’s famous pillbox hat. The stunning cinematography, eccentric, detailed sets, and impeccable costumes bring this series to life, the images on the screen as stunning and wild as the clothing and personalities they’re depicting.
However, it was disappointing to see that Halston’s family was not consulted in the making of the series. It was based on the novel, Simply Halston by Steven Gaines, but in a statement to the Associated Press the family made it clear that the series was dramatized, “The Halston Archives and Family were not consulted on the upcoming Netflix series involving an inaccurate, fictionalized account of famed fashion designer, Halston. The Halston Archives remains the only definitive and comprehensive source on the man and his legacy as the personally appointed custodian of his private papers and effects.”
With that in mind, the series is well executed in terms of script, storytelling, and performances. The characters are stunningly multi-layered with each journey reaching a satisfying conclusion to their arc.
Ewan McGregor nails the pompous vulnerability of Halston, a genius still cripplingly haunted by his past. He eases through the phases of Halston’s life, giving each the exact nuance it needed to show the journey of the character in the relatively short time frame they had to tell these 20 years in. However, no performance is more enchanting than that of Krysta Rodriguez as Liza Minelli. She steals every scene she is in, painting an ethereal picture of the legendary performer.
The series as a whole was captivating, drawing audiences into the world, the relationships, and the tensions of Halston and his business decisions that ultimately led to his fall from grace. The plot was fleshed out along the five episodes flawlessly, giving enough to draw you in and keep you pining for more with each episode, none feeling rushed and nothing feeling as if it didn’t belong.
Halston stars Krysta Rodriguez as Liza Minnelli, Rebecca Dayan as Elsa Peretti, Bill Pullman as David Mahoney, Gian Franco Rodriguez as Victor Hugo, David Pittu as Joe Eula, Sullivan Jones as Ed Austin, Rory Culkin as Joel Schumacher, Kelly Bishop as Eleanor Lambert, and Vera Farmiga as Adele.
Halston is streaming exclusively on Netflix now!