Ewan McGregor hadn’t heard of Halston before agreeing to play him, and he may not be alone. This sleek Netflix miniseries is the latest to give a fashion designer the biopic treatment, and in this case, Roy Halston’s glamorous life and dramatic fall give McGregor plenty of meat to bite into. Halston rose to fame wearing a pillbox hat, which gave him instant notoriety after Jackie O wore it. But his star rose and fell, rose and fell again, and by the time of his death, in 1990, he had lost the rights even to his own name.
Halston’s family They have already called this series “an inaccurate, fictionalized story”, issuing a statement that they were not consulted in its realization. It’s full of sex, drugs, and monster egos, so it would be surprising if they gave it their blessing. The series begins in the late 1960s, when American women turn against hats, and Halston is forced to embark on the first in a series of visionary reinventions that will ultimately transform fashion in America.
It’s appropriate for a story set primarily amidst the glitz and glut of Studio 54’s celebrity circle that is flawlessly resolved. It looks expensive and drips elegance. The performances are superb, from Krysta Rodriguez’s charming and lovable Liza Minnelli to Rebecca Dayan’s adoring Elsa Peretti, and any television devotee who wants to see Gilmore Girls matriarch Emily Gilmore (the fabulous Kelly Bishop) as a foul-mouthed publicist throwing a line. like, “You’re going to come to Versailles and take those snooty French motherfuckers off the stage” they’ll be delighted with your shapeshifting.
But this is McGregor’s show and, like Halston, he has a complex figure. He becomes the ringleader of what he calls “a group of fags, monsters, and girls who haven’t grown up yet.” He is confident of his talents, but enraged by the business side of fashion, fighting the money men (except when they are throwing cash at him). Ultimately, his outrageous habit of spending money on sex, orchids, and cocaine wears out the patience of backers who keep his business afloat, but demand more of his genius every day.
But, for all the excitement and glamor of the holidays, it rarely goes deep when necessary. There’s a lot of talk about lost deals, investments, and the expansion and production of “IT items,” like high-end blue jeans. This is the substance of the story, no doubt he argues that Halston’s name was tainted by the number of things he named after, but it comes at the cost of characterization. This is only five episodes long, but it takes time to gain viewers’ sympathy for the main character, and it’s not until the last two episodes that he really gets under the skin.
Ultimately, this frames the story as a debate about art versus commerce, a curious choice. One of the criticisms that some viewers had about the BBC adaptation of The Pursuit of Love was that it was not “identifiable” because it was toffs. Whether the stories have to be identifiable is a matter of debate at best, but I saw The Search for Love as a story. about love and freedom, set in a world of toffs. The difference is that Halston is set in a world of fame, but it’s all about the pressure of what to create and how to be creative when there’s too much money and little time. Puts an emotional distance between the audience and the story. This is written and directed by television veteran Daniel Minahan, and comes from Ryan Murphy’s stable. Murphy is an executive producer and co-writer here, and he’s famous for signing a massive deal with Netflix, which has surely given him plenty of opportunities to grapple with the question of whether increasing productivity means lowering quality.
With that said, in the second half of this entertaining and often highly hilarious drama (and worth the asking price to see McGregor get by when asked to cut his flower budget: “Orchids are part of my process. a budget to inspiration! “), I discovered that Halston had conquered me, excesses, business problems and all that. One scene, in particular, is beautifully done, in which two exes silently chew on the remains of their relationship, one who was for money and the other for love. This is the beating heart of the show, and it’s a shame he never decides exactly where he is. Maybe he’s too captivated by his own reflection. But then after the credits came out By the end of the day, I realized I had pulled off a trick similar to Halston’s: at the last minute, I had started to care a lot about him, after all.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism