The True Story Behind Simply Halston, Your New Favourite Fashion TV Show

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We're thrilled with the news that Ewan McGregor will be starring in and producing a series based on the legendary designer Halston. The show will be written by The Affair's Sharr White and directed by American Crime Story's Daniel Minahan – which is promising, considering the popularity of Minahan's dramatisation of the 1977 murder of Italian designer Gianni Versace.
While the air date and network are still TBC, we predict Simply Halston – based on the 1991 biography of the same name, written by Steven Gaines – will be a hedonistic, glamorous, sexed-up show, brimming with all the biggest names the designer surrounded himself by, from Liza Minnelli to his muse, Bianca Jagger.
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"He wears the finest clothes, the best designers heaven knows, ooh from his head down to his toes... Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci." So sang Sister Sledge on the late '70s disco classic "He's The Greatest Dancer", but you may well know less about Halston than the two other fashion powerhouses. Who was the Studio 54 mainstay, the man who clothed some of the most iconic women of the decade and pioneered the own-name fashion house?
Roy Halston Frowick arrived in New York as a milliner in 1957, before founding his own business three years later. He made his name designing hats for the biggest actresses on the silver screen, but his big break came in 1961, when he created the duck egg blue pillbox hat worn by Jackie Kennedy for her husband John F Kennedy's inauguration.
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Supported by his friend and New York Fashion Week founder Eleanor Lambert, by the time the decadent '70s rolled around, Halston had his own ready-to-wear line, which, with its gold lamé and bias-cut jersey, was (and still is) synonymous with the Studio 54 aesthetic. Think less all-out sparkle and more of a quiet glamour; when Bianca Jagger rode into the nightclub on a white horse, she wasn't wearing a spangled showstopper but Halston's easy, sexy, off-the-shoulder jersey dress. As André Leon Talley commented in documentary Ultrasuede: In Search Of Halston: "He invented minimalism – that one-note look. To Halston less was more."
These days we're accustomed to own-name fashion brands – Alexander McQueen, Giorgio Armani, Rick Owens – but Halston pioneered the eponymous label. This, plus his famous friends and clients only added to his fame. The most glamorous women of the time – Jagger, Minnelli, Diana Vreeland, Anjelica Huston and Rita Hayworth, who became known as 'the Halstonettes' – were always on his arm at the most glittering of parties, and he had longstanding friendships with Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.
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But Halston's rising star wasn't to last. While he played a huge part in defining the look of the '70s, he failed to evolve his brand and move with the times. He was one of the first designers to embrace the high/low collaboration, with US high street brand J.C. Penny, but the collection, which ranged from £31-£129, didn't do well and was seen to cheapen his ready-to-wear line. Bergdorf Goodman dropped his main collection, and Halston (the man) lost the rights to his name and company. He soon sunk into depression and a pattern of drug and alcohol-fuelled all-nighters, and in 1990 Halston passed away from lung cancer combined with AIDS-related illnesses.
The legendary designer is synonymous with the glitz and glamour of New York's 1970s scene, and if American Crime Story and The Affair are anything to go by, Simply Halston will be a thrilling look at the designer's rise and fall, and all the sex, luxury and fame in between.
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