Halston True Story: How Much The Show Changes | Screen Rant

The Netflix limited series Halston chronicles the career and personal life of the famed designer over three decades. How true is the story?

Halston chronicles the career and personal life of the fashion icon from the 1960s-90s, but how much of the story is true? The five-episode limited series, which is currently streaming on Netflix, was co-written and executive produced by Ryan Murphy and stars Ewan McGregor in the title role. Representatives of the Halston Archives and Family denounced Halston, issuing a statement that said they had not been consulted and called Halston an "inaccurate, fictionalized account of the famed designer." Still, Halston offers a highly stylized, glossy magazine cover synopsis of its subject's personal and professional lives manufactured from Murphy's distinct perspective and Steven Gaines' biography Simply Halston: The Untold Story. 

Halston executive producer and director Dan Minahan structured each episode around a different collection or creation of the designer's, such as his first collection for Bergdorf Goodman, the Ultrasuede dress, his fragrance, and his industry-changing controversial collaboration with department store chain JCPenney. The series delves into Halston's personal life, including his tumultuous love affair with Victor Hugo (played by Gian Franco Rodriguez), his close friendships with jewelry designer Elsa Peretti (played by Rebecca Dayan), who was an acclaimed jewelry designer best remembered for her signature Tiffany & Co.’s  "Bone Cuff," and performer Liza Minelli (played by Krysta Rodriguez). It also explores Halston's debaucherous days as a fixture on the Studio 54 club scene. The series concludes with Halston's fall from grace and his final months before succumbing to AIDS-related lung cancer in 1990 at 57.

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Halston has reignited interest in the fashion pioneer who not only dressed celebrities but became one in his own right. The designer's contribution to American fashion is indisputable: a self-made man who aspired to make high fashion accessible to every woman. Halston dressed women beautifully, creating silhouettes that flattered every shape and size. He built a brand that included handbags, luggage, carpet, and lingerie. Halston paints a picture of an innovator with a propensity for excess. Here's how much we know to be true of Ryan Murphy's biographical series.

Roy Halston Frowick was born on April 23, 1932, in Des Moines, Iowa, to an accountant and a homemaker. His family moved to Evansville, Indiana, when he was 10 years old. The series doesn't linger long on Halston's childhood other than to show him making hats for his mother, who was portrayed as a victim of physical and verbal abuse. According to Gaines (via Slate), Halston did design hats for his mother and sister. Although his father may have been temperamental, accounts from friends and family describe Halston's upbringing as "wholesomely  middle-class middle American."

Andy Warhol's presence is felt if not seen in Halston. His pop-art paintings adorn the walls of Halston's apartment (Hugo did, in fact, steal several of the artist's works from his lover), and his name and famed Factory are mentioned in passing. According to Slate, not only were Halston and Warhol close friends, but they were also frequent collaborators. Warhol would photograph Halston's fashion shows, and he was a fan of the designer's menswear so much so that he created an advertising campaign in 1982. The two spent holidays together and gave each other lavish gifts. The house in Montauk that Halston supposedly purchased actually belonged to Warhol, and Halston rented a cottage, one of several that comprised the artist's compound.

Halston's inner circle is whittled down considerably in the series. According to , frequent guests at Halston's 101 East 63rd Street home included Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger, Anjelica Huston, Cher, and model Pat Cleveland. Halston loved being surrounded by an entourage and a select group of models known as the Halstonettes who, according to CNN, traveled with the designer and accompanied him to functions "often in coordinating outfits he'd custom-tailored for them."

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Hugo features predominately in Halston as a pushy hanger-on who blackmails and steals from Halston to support his drug habit and subsidize his career as an "artist." Gaines told Logo he believed Halston "liked being humiliated by Hugo" and "the shock value of having him around." In 2019’s Halston documentary, Halston's friend and illustrator Joe Eula (played by David Pittu) told filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng (via Vanity Fair) that Halston put up with Hugo because he was in love with him. When asked by Tcheng when things began to fall apart, Eula responded, "The day they met." Hugo's parasitic qualities are evident in the series, but there are moments of what appear to be genuine tenderness between the two men. “I think maybe Victor, in the beginning, was the person who could tell Halston the truth about things. But then that became something more manipulative," Minahan told Vanity Fair.

Fresh off his triumph at The Battle of Versailles, Halston sold his company and his name to Norton Simon in 1973 for $16 million. The deal was meant to give Halston a much-needed cash infusion. In 1983, he signed a $1 billion six-year deal with JCPenney creating the industry's first "masstige" line. In the series, Halston doesn't show much enthusiasm for the endeavor, but in real life, he announced the collaboration himself on live television, and it gave him the opportunity he craved: "to dress every woman in America," according to . While commonplace now (Missoni for Target, Hermès, and Apple), this type of luxury brand collaboration was unheard of at the time, and the deal turned the fashion world against him. The series focus shifts to how Halston's lavish spending, drug addiction, and turbulent personal life only further serves to diminish his cachet. While his designs for the retailer varied greatly from his made-to-order creation, he was one of a few designers laying the groundwork for today's trendy athleisure wear.

The brainchild of publicist Eleanor Lambert (played by Kelly Bishop), whose real legacy is the famed New York Fashion Week, the Battle of Versailles pitted five french designers against five Americans. Josephine Baker was there, Liza Minelli performed, but Halston doesn't acknowledge an important aspect of that evening: the models. Robin Givhan, the fashion critic for , wrote, "the Versailles runway would host one of the largest contingents of African American models ever to walk in a major, multiracial fashion show — a show that did not use them as a gimmick, an overt aesthetic statement or a political flourish." According to Bustle, Halston regularly used BIPOC models in his runway shows, and he helped launch the careers of Pat Cleveland and Iman.

Halston portrays the designer as a man haunted by demons that stem from a tumultuous upbringing. Besides fictionalized flashbacks and a funeral scene, none of Halston's family members appear in the miniseries. In the final episode, Halston leaves the East Coast, spending his final months traveling along the Pacific Coast, making his way to San Francisco. The series omits that the designer lived out his final months after a year and a half long battle with AIDS surrounded by his family. According to Slate, Halston's brother Bob Frowick, and his sister, Sue Hopkins, lived in the Bay Area with their families. Halston was especially close to his niece Lesley Frowick who maintains the Halston Archives. She also wrote the book Halston: Inventing American Fashion and was co-curator of the traveling exhibition Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede. Her lack of involvement in Halston undermines the credibility of Halston in a significant way.

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The Killing Of Two Lovers Review: A Compelling & Intense Relationship Drama

The Killing of Two Lovers details a fractured marriage story, one that is intense, deeply compelling, and suspenseful in an uneasy and surprising way.

Written and directed by Robert Machoian, The Killing of Two Lovers is unexpected in the best way. The film opens with a scene that elicits a gasp, with its main character on the verge of doing something he might regret. While he doesn’t go through with it, it immediately sets the tone for the remainder of the film. The Killing of Two Lovers details a fractured marriage story, one that is intense, deeply compelling, and suspenseful in an uneasy and surprising way. 

David (Clayne Crawford) and his estranged wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi) are separated after several years of marriage. David has moved out of the house they shared with their four kids, though there is an attempt there to work through their issues despite the fact that Nikki seems to have already moved on to another relationship with Derek (Chris Coy), one that is deemed okay in the newly agreed upon terms following the pair's split. David and Nikki's struggles are all-encompassing, affecting the adults and their children. David and Nikki, who got married right out of high school, are reevaluating why they’re still together, having tried and seemingly failed to keep their marriage going after so long. 

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They’re different people now and, despite the fact that they still love each other, are no longer on the same page. This fracture is evident throughout the film, with their separation obviously taking its toll on them and their kids, with the story putting the difficulties of a changing marriage and what that means to the family being on full display. The Killing of Two Lovers is unexpectedly chilling, though one could perhaps surmise as much from the title, which itself suggests there will be a literal killing or the death of the film’s primary relationship. 

Machoian sinuously builds up the tension and unease throughout — from the film’s opening scene of David standing over his wife and her boyfriend while holding a gun, to the heightened verbal sparring between David and Nikki or the ones that occur between him and daughter Jesse (Avery Pizzuto), the eldest of the four kids and the one who is most unhappy with her parents' choices. The toll the separation takes is tremendous and the film treats it as such, elevating the simmering tension with encompassing, distinguished shots that bring viewers into David and Nikki's troubles while maintaining a distance, the viewers merely spectators watching the fizzling out of this marriage from afar, getting only pieces of the whole picture. 

The film’s ending is innocuous, however, leaving behind the brazen intensity and visceral conflict for a strangely less dramatic ending. Yet somehow, the final scene is almost as chaotic and off-putting as the rest of the film. It's unexpected and shocking considering all that came before. The characters' emotions are front and center, though it's obvious David's feelings about a potentially permanent separation from his wife is more of a focal point. He gets to be confused, frustrated, angry, and openly struggling while Nikki isn't afforded the same amount of time to showcase her tumultuous emotions (save for a few scenes). The film itself is more interested in exploring the complicated feelings that come with a separation rather than what exactly may have led to it to begin with; the implications are there, of course, but The Killing of Two Lovers subverts expectations. And, really, it doesn't much matter in this instance because the reasons are irrelevant when compared to the effects it has on the characters. 

Clayne Crawford delivers an especially poignant performance as David, who works to appease his children while simultaneously trying to maintain the relationship he has with Nikki. Sepideh Moafi is equally a sympathetic character despite not getting as much to work with as Crawford. As Nikki, she's torn between trying to go her own way and being there for her family in the midst of their split and her emotional turmoil is just as prevalent thanks to Moafi's moving portrayal. The Killing of Two Lovers is ultimately a striking, deep, and engaging film about the downfall of a marriage. Driven by the emotional drama that is constantly bubbling to the surface, the film handles the unsettling feelings of its characters and tension-building with ease, leaving the audience with a complex, compelling story. 

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The Killing of Two Lovers is now playing in theaters and is available on demand. The film is 84 minutes long and is rated R for language. 

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!

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