HALSTON – Review by Susan Granger

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Have you ever stood in the check-out line at the supermarket, skimming through the tabloids on display? It’s like gorging yourself on salacious gossip and juicy innuendo.

That’s the feeling you get watching this new five-part Netflix mini-series, starring Scottish actor Ewan McGregor as Roy Halston Frowick, who becomes one of America’s most famous designers.

Raised in Indiana, he’d try to lift his woebegone mother’s spirits by making her hats. Growing into adulthood, he created the famous pillbox that Jacqueline Kennedy wore to her husband’s Inauguration.

Propelled by Eleanor Lambert (Kelly Bishop), Halston transitioned into haute couture, choosing young Liza Minnelli (Krysta Rodriguez) as his first muse, blending freedom with fashion, cutting fabric to flow with her dancing.

As affluent socialites popularized his shirtwaist dress and ultrasuede fabric, David Mahoney (Bill Pullman) of Norton Simon Industries supplied him with extravagant financial backing.

Meanwhile, reckless, cocaine-addicted Halston sought male prostitutes like Victor Hugo (Gian Franco Rodriguez), embracing them in an entourage that included Joel Schumacher (Rory Culkin) and jewelry designer Elsa Peretti (Rebecca Dayan).

Having lost claim to his trademark name and unable to meet deadlines, Halston was forced to work with theater costumer John David Ridge (Jack Mikesell). Later, he collaborated with Martha Graham (Mary Beth Piel) on unique “Persephone” outfits.

FYI: In the episode devoted to the orgiastic debauchery & decadence of Manhattan’s Studio 54, a disheveled woman is repeatedly denied entrance. Desperate, she tries to sneak through the air vents and perishes. Based on a real incident, it was a man’s dead body that was found.

Adapted by Sharr White from Stephen Gaines’ book “Simply Halston,” it’s directed by Daniel Minahan and produced by Ryan Murphy, offering fragmented glimpses into Halston’s ludicrous penchant for raunchy self-destruction as he snorts away admirable talent and incredible potential.

While Krysta Rodriguez barely skims Liza Minnelli’s surface and Vera Farmiga is wasted as a perfumer sniffing Victor Hugo’s jock strap, Ewan McGregor’s compelling performance is perfection personified.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Halston” is a stylistic yet sordid 7, streaming on Netflix.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.