'Halston' is the biographical story of Roy Halston (Ewan McGregor), the American fashion designer who started out his career as a humble milliner in the late '50s. He quickly became a household name after designing the pillbox hat for Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961, and the series documents Halson’s eventual cracking of the American fashion industry, his meteoric rise to fame, his saturation of various market avenues, and his eventual fall from grace.
Fashion, drama, drugs, sex, opulence, power stances, self-indulgence - yep, you guessed it, it's a Ryan Murphy title. Here, the creator has taken on an executive producer role for 'Halston' alongside McGregor and other frequent Murphy collaborators such as Ian Brennan, Alexis Martin Woodall, with Daniel Minahan in the director's seat.
With only five episodes to this miniseries, the first half is fast-paced and engaging, introducing us to a man who was a household name back in the '60s and '70s. From what we're told here, Halston was a man who needed a large team around him in order for him to do his job, struggling with confidence in himself, and often thinking that the world was against him; but he had a great mind. He also had a traumatising upbringing which, much later in his life, serves as an inspiration for some of his creations.
The audience is treated to such a fun opening to a series as Halston begins his empire that you'd almost forgive the final two episodes for their stagnation. McGregor plays all sides of the title character to agreeable effect; theatre star Krysta Rodriguez as Liza Minnelli is easily one of the highlights, especially when she hits that stage (twice, thankfully); Gian Franco Rodriguez as Halston's secret lover Victor Hugo is fiery and passionate, making him a devastating force to be reckoned with; while Rory Culkin as Halston's young protege seems to just disappear after episode one, never to be spoken about again.
But after all of the buzz, the fabulous Studio 54 antics, and the incessant drug-taking dies down, all we're left with is a series that mirrors Halston's later career - stuck on a downward trajectory, unfortunately. It's not that the series is bad, but with only five episodes you would expect a certain level of engagement all the way through. One wonders why 'Halston' wasn't simply turned into a movie, as it could have worked out in the viewer's favour.
'Halston' has been causing some amount of controversy in recent weeks, with the family estate branding the series as "sensational" and "overinflated", however they failed to make reference to which elements are so. Whether some parts of what we see here are fabricated or not, the central storyline remains true.
Put simply, one man's "American Dream" became an overstuffed nightmare - something which the creators of 'Halston' should have paid more attention to.
'Halston' is available to stream on Netflix now.