At just five episodes each a little over forty minutes or so long, Halston is an easily binged miniseries.
A man who defined an era, the era of excess, Halston is synonymous with glamour, luxury, sleaze, driving ambition and sex. Friend of the stars and wealthy, the fey, camp Halston (a wholly convincing Ewan McGregor) builds his brand through sheer determination and single-minded arrogance (and a great deal of cocaine). But corporate investment is required to provide and sustain a lifestyle along with the flamboyant designer’s vision.
Best friend to Liza Minnelli (Krysta Rodriguez), attracted to rough trade sexual encounters and very late nights preferably at New York’s famed Studio 54, Halston was on a mission to self-destruct. Constant conflict with his investors, the excessive use of drugs along with an open relationship with lover, former rent boy Victor (Gian Franco Rodriguez) full of casual sexual encounters and orgies, eventually caught up with Halston. A disillusioned, burnt out icon died in 1990 from HIV/AIDS.
Halston is engrossing if something of an easy ride – showing remarkable restraint from the usually excessive Ryan Murphy (Hollywood, Ratched) (although Murphy acts as executive producer rather than producer here). McGregor is remarkable, remaining on the right side of fey rather than stereotypical camp, and his relationships with the likes of Minnelli and long-term collaborators – his go-to model and eventual jewellery designer Elsa Peretti (Rebecca Dayan) and illustrator Joe Eula (David Pittu) in particular – are the grounding of the twenty years or so covered by the series.
Selective it may be in its telling of the man’s life (there’s little of his earlier life), Halston is an enjoyable insight into an audacious personality, as much aggravating as genius. This was a man who, with so much cocaine in his system, could miss vital deadlines but who would invite guests to lunch in his Montauk getaway but have the food prepared and flown in from New York.