Halston: Why is it so hard to make a good fashion movie?
The last and fifth episode of Halston, Netflix’s new miniseries starring Ewan McGregor as the mononymous creator, is named after the fashion designer’s feared adversary: ”Critics.” The finale takes place after Halston’s interest in orgies and cocaine attacks, and a perilous licensing deal, has overtaken his life. The designer asks his last daughter standing, a secretary named Sassy who is primarily responsible for procuring cocaine for the office, to read him reviews of his latest collection, a low-cost iteration of his wares for the center retailer. commercial JC Penney. Spoiler alert: they’re bad. Embittered and in tears, he proclaims: “Critics don’t matter.”
This is true, in fact, in cases where the desire of the consumer outweighs the wrath of a reviewer, but Halston is on the verge of tears because he knows the reviews are fair. And Halston is currently in Netflix’s Top 10 Streaming Programs on the homepage. This leaves the question: is it Halston, the series, good? The cast – the film’s own entourage of the Halstonettes, if you will – are formidable: McGregor walks around in increasingly long coats; Bill Pullman as pushy then greedy funder; Kelly Bishop as coarse Eleanor Lambert, designer of the International Best-Dressed List and New York Fashion Week, calling the French fashion establishment a “son of a bitch.” You will love Victor Hugo, the Warhol hanger with the perfect mustache. Villains with mustaches – don’t see them much anymore!
And aside from the cast, Halston is right about one crucial thing: the costumes, by Jeriana San Juan. I smile at the wild stiffness of the hair of the great lady Babe Paley; the outdated leopard suit from Halston’s First Support, illustrating why women like her needed a man like him; Elsa Peretti with her bone cuffs and caftans; and of course, the five-and-over man with his turtlenecks and shield sunglasses. (You can see how and why Tom Ford was taking notes.) The best scenes are of Halston cutting a piece of fabric with tasty simplicity and shaping it onto the body, and dresses flipping and moving on a runway, well that of course this is just the beginning of life in Dress Years.
But you don’t see how dresses have changed women’s lives – their purpose, in Halston’s world. A production of Ryan Murphy, the show sets out to portray the life and influence of Halston, the American designer who, after becoming known as the designer of Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat, launched his own clothing brand. Americans who combine the ease and portability of sportswear. with the taste and culture of couture. Above all, the miniseries format means little is spared – we see things even a generous biopic would admit, like his first forgotten and failed couture attempt, and Halston begging filmmaker Joel Schumacher to get sober. With its didactic structure and dialogue – at the start there is a weird early rehashing of Ralph Lauren hawking its broad ties – the series is emblematic of a mass camp that seems to have invaded cinema and especially television. The sly wink has become the overly articulate one, the secret language has become a chain of clichés. (If writing about Camp is to betray him, then Murphy’s work amounts to Camp Betrayal.) There is nothing secret or sultry about the series – qualities that have defined Halston’s work.
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