Roy Halston Frowick was a charismatic fashion designer whose personal and professional life encapsulated the decade in which he thrived. It is a role tailor-made for Ewan MacGregor and well-suited to producer Ryan Murphy. Why then does the series feel as though it just came off the rack?
At the start of the sixties, Halston was the world’s most famous milliner thanks to Jackie Kennedy wearing his pillbox hat to her husband’s inauguration. By the end of the sixties, women weren’t wearing hats anymore and Halston needed to find another outlet for his creativity. Assembling a team that included illustrator Joe Eula, model Elsa Peretti and window dresser Joel Schumacher, Halston launched a line of ready-to-wear fashion that propelled his career into the seventies. While Halston was busy designing that decade's look, lending his name to such diverse products as perfume, luggage and carpet, the seventies were surreptitiously busy defining him. Succumbing to an excess of sex and drugs and disco, by the decade’s end it was not Halston's latest designs that had already been sown, but rather the seeds of his downfall.
There is much to like about this series. The recreation of Halston’s fashion, office and private residences are beautifully realised; Krysta Rodriguez provides a particularly credible Liza Minnelli; and the depiction of Halston in the throes of inspiration are delightfully engaging. The problem is that very little else is. For all the unbridled sex on display, Halston remains a dispassionate project. Despite the filmmaker’s admiration of Halston’s talent being on full display, their empathy for the man himself is curiously concealed.
An undeniably handsome production, Halston is all window dressing.
as Liza Minnelli
as Joel Schumacher
Unidentified extras as Jack Haley and Divine.
The Halston Archives and Family released the following statement prior to the series airing on Netflix –
“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.”
Biopic contains no reference to Halston or Schumacher’s contribution to film, but does feature some behind the scenes snippets about Minnelli’s Cabaret (1972) and and Lucky Lady (1975).