One of Netflix’s most talked-about projects at the moment is miniseries Halston. The production, which stars Ewan McGregor as Roy Halston, hit the streaming service this month and has audiences wondering who the designer really was.
Well known for his Studio 54 appearances and friendships with the likes of Liza Minelli, Halston’s story is one of extreme success, followed by tragic loss.
As Netflix writes in its synopsis:
His name built an empire. His style defined an era. American fashion designer Halston skyrockets to fame before his life starts to spin out of control.
If you’re keen to learn more, we’ve pulled together a bit of an explainer to help give you some background into the story.
Who was Roy Halston?
Roy Halston, widely known as just ‘Halston’ was an American fashion designer who rose to incredible heights during the late 1960s and ’70s.
Halston came from the Midwest of America and began his fashion career in the ’60s, working as a milliner. His name exploded onto the scene, however, when Jacqueline Kennedy wore a pillbox hat designed by Halston on Inauguration Day.
More broadly, Halston was known for creating pieces that considered the needs of everyday working women, most notably with the launch of his suedette shirt dress in the early ’70s. As Marie Claire writes, per the Netflix production, Halson claims to have created the fabric Ultrasuede; a synthetic version of suede. The machine-washable product made his pieces more accessible to the average woman.
Why is his story so interesting?
As Netflix showcases in the trailer for the series, Halston shot to fame – making loads of celebrity friends along the way (names like Liza Minnelli, Pat Cleveland and Elsa Peretti turn up a fair bit in association with Halston).
However, a decision to sign with JCPenney saw the designer’s success slip through his fingers. As Fast Company shares, high-end retailers like Bergdorf Goodman became concerned the association would damage the brand, and eventually stopped stocking his work. The outlet shared that he slowly had control of the brand taken from him, due to “excessive spending and erratic behaviour”.
Dan Minahan, the director of Halston shared with the Los Angeles Times that, “The hook for me was this idea of someone coming to New York, creating this made-up name, building it into an empire and then being stripped of his name and company—he couldn’t be Halston anymore.”
Halston was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988 and died in 1990 from health complications related to the virus.
It’s worth noting that relatives of Roy Halston have criticised the miniseries for its depiction of the designer.
Where can I find Halston in Australia?
As I’m sure you’ve gathered at this point, you can watch Halston in Australia on Netflix. Check it out here.
If you’d like to keep reading about scandalous fashion house stories, read our write up on House of Gucci here.