Netflix’s new miniseries follows the life and career of legendary fashion designer Roy “Halston” Frowick throughout the disco era. While we know Halston himself was real, many fans still wonder: is the show Halston is a true story? Allow us to explain.
Netflix’s Halston, which was co-written and executive produced by Ryan Murphy and stars Ewan McGregor as fashion designer Halston himself, premiered on May 14, 2021. Just days ahead of its release, representatives of the Halston Archives and Family released a statement dismissing the five-episode limited series as an “inaccurate, fictionalized account of the famed designer,” noting that they had not been consulted once by the show’s creators. “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,” they wrote.
But does that mean Halston isn’t a true story? While it may not follow the exact turn of events, Halston is still based on some real-life moments from the famed designer’s personal and professional life. Keep on reading for everything we know about Halston’s true story below.
Is Halston based on a true story?
Halston features a stylized version of events that took place in the mononymous designer’s life throughout the 1970s and ’80s as he worked to become a fashion industry mogul. So yes, Halston is based on a true story—but it’s not 100% historically accurate. Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series also takes inspiration from a biography of Halston’s life written by Steven Gaines, titled Simply Halston: The Untold Story. The book, which was originally published in 1991, serves as the foundation for Murphy’s deliciously debaucherous miniseries.
Was Liza Minnelli really friends with Halston?
Liza Minnelli and Halston’s friendship is one of the highlights of Murphy’s Netflix limited series, and thankfully, what we’re seeing isn’t fictitious. Liza and Halston really were great friends, and as depicted in Halston, the actress and singer was one of Halston’s beloved muses.
While Netflix’s Halston shows their first meeting as having taken place at a club after the fashion designer saw her perform for the first time, the true story of their meeting was a little more ordinary. During a 2011 interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Liza revealed that it was her godmother, Kay Thompson, who first decided to introduce her to Halston while out shopping at Bloomingdale’s one day.
When Liza fell in love with a Halston piece, Thompson arranged for her goddaughter to meet the famed fashion designer. “We got along instantly, and he became my fashion mate. I did what he said,” Liza told the magazine at the time. “He dressed me, and suddenly I was able to go anywhere I wanted.” Liza’s longtime friend and collaborator, Michael Feinstein, later told The New York Times that “no one matters more to her than Halston. Liza says that, with Fred Ebb and Kay Thompson, Halston created her.”
And finally: Did someone really die in the Studio 54 air vents?
Despite how insane this story sounds, it’s true. Someone really did die from getting trapped in an air vent at the legendary club. According to the 2018 Studio 54 documentary, it was a man in a black-tie—not a woman, as depicted in Halston—who attempted to get past the club’s notorious velvet ropes by trying to sneak in by crawling through an air vent and becoming fatally stuck. Yikes!
Halston is available to stream on Netflix.
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