Halston

Ewan McGregor as Halston

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Emily Clark

TV Series Review

Halston became a household name back in 1961 after Jackie Kennedy wore a pillbox that he designed for the inauguration of her husband, President John F. Kennedy.

Suddenly, everyone wanted a Halston hat. And the designer saw success while working as the head milliner of Bergdorf Goodman.

Of course, things took a turn around 1968 when women traded in their chic little hats for chic, big hairdos.

But Halston wasn’t deterred. He adapted with the times and made a switch himself—from designing just women’s hats to designing all women’s clothes.

Halston’s first fashion show was a disaster: He didn’t sell a single item. However, he put together a team of designers, artists and models, and pretty soon, was once again well-known for his modern designs.

Studio 54: Creative Collective or Den of Debauchery?

But Halston’s fame and success did not stand the test of time the way his creative contemporaries did (Oscar de la Renta and Anne Klein to name a few). And that has to do with some things that happened in the late ‘70s.

When the soon-to-be-infamous Studio 54 opened in 1977 in New York City, Halston easily found his way onto the guest list as a close friend of singer and actress Liza Minnelli (as well as other Hollywood stars).

Unfortunately, what originally started as a night club for Hollywood’s elite soon became a veritable den of debauchery.

The club allowed open drug use, and it was here that Halston developed an addiction to cocaine. It also welcomed homosexuality, which appealed to Halston as a gay man.

And while the nightclub may not be directly responsible for Halston’s bad choices, it wasn’t exactly steering its patrons down a righteous path, either.

As we see in the show, Liza Minnelli collapsed while dancing one night from the drugs and alcohol in her system, and she entered rehab shortly after. The club’s owners were arrested for tax evasion. And when authorities raided the club, they found the corpse of a crazed fan who had attempted to enter through the air vents.

Beyond Eccentric

Halston attempts to give us a peak into the life of a complicated man. We see glimpses of the abuse he and his mother suffered at the hands of his father growing up. He pushed away friends, insulting them and claiming their own fame and success were due to him, but then complained that those same friends abandoned him.

Though Halston initially made it clear that drug use was unacceptable after catching an employee shooting heroin, it soon became his vice. We see excessive drug use not only from him, but from just about every person he came into contact with. (At one point, when his phone stops working, they discover that the receiver is full of cocaine from Halston taking phone calls while snorting the stuff.) And it’s also rare to see him without a drink or cigarette in his hand.

Swearing happens as frequently as the drug use with multiple uses of the f-word and s-word—not to mention numerous euphemisms for sex and human anatomy.

But perhaps the biggest deterrent to this show (and Halston’s lifestyle, in general) is the sex depicted onscreen. Halston died of AIDs in 1990, and Netflix leaves us no question as to why. Men have sex with other men, and we see several naked rear ends (not to mention jock-strap covered fronts). We also see naked women barely covering themselves.

Halston’s lifestyle was called “beyond eccentric,” and the same could be said of Halston. Because besides a brief history lesson in fashion (and some admittedly great acting), there’s nothing here to recommend Halston to anyone.

Episode Reviews

May 14, 2021: “Becoming Halston”

We see the beginnings of Halston’s career, from his childhood in Indiana, to his time as a milliner for Bergdorf’s, to his first successful fashion line.

As a child, Halston overhears his father beating his mother.

We see naked rear ends as two men have sex. We see these same men in their underwear in other scenes as they make out and cuddle. Liza Minnelli and models working for Halston remove their clothes for dress fittings, covering themselves with their hands. Liza also sits in the laps of several men as she performs. Halston kisses Liza on the mouth in a platonic manner.

After Halston catches an employee shooting heroin in the bathroom, he tells the man to get clean. Halston later fires him when he realizes the man is still using drugs. We see people drinking and smoking throughout the episode.

Someone says, “God bless Jackie Kennedy.” We hear multiple uses of the f-word and s-word, as well as “h—.” There are also misuses of God’s name. Someone uses the derogatory term “queer.”

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

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