Upcoming 'Halston' Called an 'Inaccurate, Fictionalized Account' by His Family and Archives

Wednesday May 12, 2021

Ewan McGregor as fashion designer Halston in the upcoming Netflix series
Ewan McGregor as fashion designer Halston in the upcoming Netflix series  (Source:Netflix)

The buzz is considerable for Netflix's upcoming biographical mini-series about 1970s fashion icon Halston, which premieres on Friday, May 14. Harper's Bazaar calls it the "next fashionable Netflix binge," while Vogue put it this way: "Viewers who have lamented the lack of a fabulously chic, binge-worthy new series in the wake of 2020's 'The Queen's Gambit' have a brand-new hit to look forward to this spring."

But some who were close to designer aren't too wild about the show. "The family of late fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick, professionally known as Halston, has issued a statement against Netflix's upcoming series based on his life, calling it 'inaccurate' and 'fictionalized,'" reports Variety.

"The Halston Archives and Family were not consulted on the upcoming Netflix series involving an inaccurate, fictionalized account of famed fashion designer, 'Halston,'" the family said in a statement to the Associated Press. "The Halston Archives remains the only definitive and comprehensive source on the man and his legacy as the personally appointed custodian of his private papers and effects."

The miniseries is, based on the book "Simply Halston" by Steven Gaines, stars Ewan McGregor as Halston, Krysta Rodriguez as Liza Minnelli, Rebecca Dayan as Elsa Peretti, Bill Pullman as David Mahoney, Gian Franco Rodriguez as Victor Hugo, David Pittu as Joe Eula, Sullivan Jones as Ed Austin, Rory Culkin as Joel Schumacher, Kelly Bishop as Eleanor Lambert and Vera Farmiga as Adele (not the singer).

Krysta Rodriguez and Ewan McGregor in "Halston"  (Source: Netflix)

Halston's career got its start in 1961 when the pillbox hat he designed for Jacqueline Kennedy for her husband's inauguration became a fashion sensation. At the time he was a milliner for the high-end Manhattan store Bergdorf Goodman. In the late 1960s he went onto design women's fashions and opened a Madison Avenue boutique, as well as introducing a ready-to-wear line. By the 1970s, he was one of New York's leading designers, whose clientele included Greta Garbo, Babe Paley, Anjelica Huston, Gene Tierney, Lauren Bacall, Margaux Hemingway, Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger and, most famously, Liza Minnelli, with whom he was frequently seen at Studio 54 in its heyday. By the 1980s, he lost control of his company, and he became ill with HIV, passing away from complications of the virus in 1990.

How accurate the show is remains to be seen, but the Halston camp isn't having any of it.

"Brook Drummond, another of Halston's nieces, posted to her Facebook on May 7 warning that the show was 'sensationalized fiction,'" reports the website Insider.

"Anyone who is interested in watching the upcoming Netflix series HALSTON, please understand that the Family was not consulted and it is an unauthorized, overdramatized and fictionalized account of a great man ... " she wrote. "He was beloved by his entire family and this portrayal is frankly garbage from what I can see and its a 'Real Housewives' take on someone who was superbly elegant and sophisticated and who made enormous contributions to American Fashion and culture. His impact was immeasurable and I hope people remember him that way and hold him up instead of reveling in sensationalized fiction about his life."

Lesley Frowick, another Halston neice and director of the Halston Archives, told Variety in a statement: "I would like to let you know that in no way was the Halston family ever contacted about this production. Halston's family spreads a wide swath of the world from Greece-all the way to California and we all collectively are disappointed that people continue to feel compelled to tell salacious and embellish stories on a persons private life when so many of his professional and other life accomplishments were more than most people will ever achieve in their lifetimes."

McGregor has been called out in the ongoing debate about straight actors playing gay roles for being cast as Halston. But the series producer Ryan Murphy told Vogue that Murphy was his only choice for the role. "The thing that Ewan got about Halston was that Halston had a vision in his mind of who he wanted to be in life... Ewan really connected with the pain of Halston and the longing of Halston, and how confusing it is to have to be an artist and a businessman at the same time. Other things as well—the power of a muse, for example."