Known mononymously as ‘Halston’, Frowick was, by the ’70s, one of the most influential designers in America. Minelli, Bianca Jagger, and the late Elsa Perretti were his muses. Jackie Kennedy, Iman, and Anjelica Huston were among his clients. Halston rose to fame in a period of seismic social change for women, first launching his eponymous label in the late ’60s, when so-called women’s liberation gave way to an era of frivolity and excess.
Halston’s signature look was a minimalist, refined take on ‘disco’ dressing. He pioneered the now-trite notion of the ‘day-to-night’ wardrobe, crafting elegant gowns in textiles that offered the wearer the feel of casual daywear. His clothes were wrapped and draped with an unparalleled eye—the perfect ensembles for the ultra-glamorous who also wanted to dance all night on the dancefloor of Studio 54.
Though he once enjoyed a reign as the king of New York City, Halston’s later life was marred by sadness and tragedy, and he died of AIDS aged 57 in 1990. There’s far more to the story, of course, but to give it all away here would be to undermine one of the most exciting TV releases of 2021—the Ryan Murphy-produced five-parter Halston, which debuts on Netflix today, May 14th.
“I grew up in Indiana—where Halston is from—surrounded by cornfields and churches, and I always heard about two people who had gotten out and gone on to bigger, glamorous things: One was Florence Henderson, and one was Halston,” Murphy revealed in an interview ahead of the series’ launch. “He was always a big figure in my mind—a representation of somebody who had come from humble beginnings and had gone on to do something incredible with his life—and I was always moved by him.”
Murphy tapped Ewan McGregor—an unexpected but inspired choice—to take on the role of Halston (early reviews have dubbed his performance “thundering”), and unearthed emerging actresses Rebecca Dayan and Krysta Rodriguez to play the roles of Elsa Peretti and Liza Minnelli respectively. The project, 25 years in the making, aims to shed light on a forgotten genius of the fashion industry: “I think we worked really hard to show a full portrait of not just a fashion designer but what it’s like to be an artist,” Murphy says. “And the temptations of that, and the temptations when the world tells you, Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And then, suddenly, a real hard no.”
If that won’t tempt you to tune in tonight, I don’t know what will.