On Netflix, the miniseries Halston, unveiled on May 14, has already won over the platform’s subscribers. Tracing the career of American designer Roy Halston Frowick, a fashion legend of the seventies, this biopic directed by Ryan Murphy takes us to the heart of the history of Studio 54.
Ryan Murphy, director of the hit anthology series American Horror Story, reaffirms his commitment to American history through his latest series, Halston. The five-episode miniseries follows the meteoric rise of designer Roy Halston Frowick, played by the famous Jedi, Ewan McGregor, in the fashion world of his time.
Roy Halston Frowick took his first steps into the cutthroat world of 1950s fashion. While studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, SAIC, the young designer decided to start making hats for women. He quickly acquired a loyal clientele and opened his own boutique in 1957 in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
But it was not until the inauguration of U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on January 20, 1961, that Halston finally made a name for himself. Indeed, it was the designer himself who made the iconic pillbox hat worn by the first lady, Jackie Kennedy. Soon, every woman in America dreamed of getting her hands on this elegant hat, and Halston‘s career was officially launched.
A symbol of disco culture, Halston used to meet his close friends, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, Joe Eula, at the Studio 54 nightclub on Broadway. The designer’s style, which will be greatly influenced by these undergrounds, favors materials such as cashmere or suede while keeping a minimalist line.
With his rising fame, Roy Halston also highlights the work of several models who collaborate with him, nicknamed the Halstonettes. Among them is his muse, Pat Cleveland, who unfortunately does not appear in the Netflix series despite her considerable influence on the designer’s career.
Pat Cleveland, like other Halstonettes like Pat Ast, does not have the slim, trim figure of the models of her era, and represents a type of woman generally absent from haute-couture shows and magazine covers. “Halston chose us because we represented a different type of woman,” says Pat Cleveland in an interview with the Financial Times.
In the United States still marked by the racial segregation of the 60s, the young model became one of the first black women to walk and pose for magazine covers.
It was Pat Cleveland who introduced Halston to Studio 54: “That night, Halston wanted to take me to dinner and I told him no, we were going to dance. “‘I can’t dance,’ he said. But I insisted and we danced under the lights, just him, Steve Rubell and me. He liked it so much that from that moment on, he started taking all his friends there,” she tells WWD.
The least we can say is that the Netflix biopic did not seduce Pat Cleveland, who criticizes it for not being faithful enough to the real life of the designer. “He created a beautiful work atmosphere for his employees, he dressed everyone, all the employees (…) and he was really interested in the well-being of others. (…) People don’t know all that. Sometimes they just want to destroy others, focus on the negative… And often it’s lonely when you’re on top”.
Representatives of the Halston archive and family have also pointed to the lies, saying the series is an “inaccurate and romanticized account of the famous creator,” in a statement in which they claim they were not consulted.
Although the series divides and there is doubt about the accuracy of the facts reported, the streaming platform does not intend to stop there. If it is already announced that the series will not have a sequel, Netflix however explores a new universe by launching its first collection of luxury clothing, inspired by the archival creations of the series. The ten-piece capsule collection will be available for pre-order starting in early June, ranging in price from $995 to $1,595.
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Featured photo: © Netflix
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