The Reel Review
Ewan McGregor stars as Halston in this Ryan Murphy penned-and-produced Netflix limited series about the rise and fall of America’s first celebrity fashion designer. Halston was synonymous with the glitz, glamour, and decadence of the 1970s and 80s – as famous for clubbing with his friends Liza Minelli, Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger as he was for his fashions.
Like so many other Murphy projects, Halston has a glamorous, eye-popping style, capturing the iconic visuals of the era. It looks great. But just as Halston was known to do, Murphy also again slaps his name on a not-so-terrific product. The five episodes are all Studio 54 flash, but no real substance. And for a story about so much drugs, sex and decadence, even that isn’t that much fun.
McGregor, however, gives it his all, portraying Halston as a caustic, brand-obsessed designer who eventually alienates all of those closest to him and sells his own name. Among the supporting cast, Krysta Rodriguez, as Liza Minnelli, gets the most screen time, although we learn little about even that friendship. Halston has the feel of a regurgitation of his Wikipedia page into a pretty but predictably mediocre, paint-by-number series.
• The Halston Archives, Halston’s namesake company, has complained that neither it nor his family was consulted on the Netflix series, calling it an “inaccurate, fictionalized account” of Halston’s life. Its CEO, Lesley Frowick, was executive producer of the 2019 Amazon documentary, Halston, about her uncle.
• Halston died in a San Francisco hospital in 1990 of AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma at age 57, two years after testing positive for HIV.
• Elsa Peretti, Halstonette model, longtime friend and Italian jewelry designer, died in her sleep at her home in Spain on March 18, 2021 at the age of 80.