‘Halston’ Has Arrived On Netflix – Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Ewan McGregor plays the American designer in the new must-watch series.

netflix halston ewan mcgregor

by Laura Antonia Jordan |
Updated on

Had the new Halston mini-series come out only a few weeks ago, you might have felt like Netflix was trolling you. Because what could be more agonising than witnessing the hedonism and glamour of 1970s New York during lockdown? As it turns out – with the prospect of proper nights out finally tantalisingly close – now is the perfect time for Halston to make its grand entrance.

Created by Ryan Murphy (who has form with fashionable fables, he was the man behind 2018’s The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story), the five-part series explores the rise and fall of one of the most influential and iconic figures in American design history.

halston netflix ewan mcgregor liza minnelli
Ewan McGregor as Halston and Krysta Rodriguez as Liza Minnelli in Halston ©Netflix

Raised in Iowa, Roy Halston Frowick (played by Ewan McGregor) went on to conquer the dazzling heights of the New York fashion – and party – scene. As the head milliner at Bergdorf Goodman, he first found fame when he put Jackie Kennedy in a pillbox hat for JFK’s inauguration.

The name Halston is more likely to conjure images of disco balls than DC, however. Founding his own womenswear salon in 1968, the look – easy, elegant, minimal – chimed with a newly liberated mood. He gave the world hot pants in the 1960s; in the ’70s, his fluid, ultra-suede dresses broke sales records. His clothes were the unofficial uniform of Studio 54’s glitterati. It was one of his off-the-shoulder dresses Bianca Jagger was wearing when she sat atop a white horse on the dance floor in 1977; Liza Minnelli (played by Krysta Rodriguez), his close friend, loyal client and one of the key members of the ever-present ‘Halstonettes’, said in a recent documentary about him, ‘His clothes danced with you.’

With its deliciously decadent drugs-and- divas backdrop, the Halston mythology makes for an excellent story. But for the show’s costume designer, Jeriana San Juan – who says, ‘There is a kinship with the fashion community and their appreciation of Halston. It almost feels like you’re part of a little cult or secret society’ – this was an opportunity to put his talent and vision back in the spotlight.

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Bianca Jagger with Halston in 1971 ©Getty

A self-confessed ‘fashion costume geek’, she was immediately drawn to the show (some pieces from Jeriana’s own Halston collection make their way on to the screen, like the black jersey shirt seen on Rebecca Dayan’s Elsa Peretti), not least because it was a chance to tell ‘a story about his creativity as an artist. We were able to spend time with him in the workroom, exploring how the invention of a dress would occur and how he’s playing with form and fabric.’

Meticulously researched, Jeriana got to know the clothes inside out (literally). In recreating designs she found herself ‘really amazed by the way he approached construction and how things just emulated grace and ease and minimalist excellence’. Masterfully cutting fabric on the bias, he transformed it into sleek, sensuous gowns with a single seam. Halston’s designs weren’t just ultra-glamorous, they were so comfortable that the woman wearing them could happily stay out all night. The emphasis he put on ease, the freedom he gave women through clothes – ‘to feel unguarded and not feel viced’ – particularly resonates again now.

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Halston (Ewan McGregor) flanked by the Halstonettes ©Netflix

Halston was similarly forward-thinking in his attitudes and outlook. His casting was inclusive, as was the licensing deal, reportedly worth $1 billion, he signed with mass retailer JC Penney in the early ’80s. High fashion was snooty about the move and the collections were panned, but today’s designers are all at it. ‘I think he really just opened the door in such a major way for a real democracy,’ notes Jeriana.

Ultimately, a tragically misguided move saw Halston sign away the rights to his designs and name. Marginalised in his own empire, he was eventually dismissed from the business, living the rest of his life in self-imposed exile. He died of AIDS- related complications in 1990 at just 57.

But could it be that 2021 might give Halston the happy ending he deserves? The show will help introduce the man and his designs to a whole new generation, as should September’s Met Gala, which is dedicated to American fashion. ‘It couldn’t be more of the moment,’ says Jeriana. ‘The US is in a celebratory mood and people are happy to come out of this pandemic and start coming together again. It just really comes at the right point for the world’.

Halston is on Netflix now.


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