Screen Gems

Before the new series, get to know the great queer designer ‘Halston’


Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.

The Primer: Halston

We can’t wait to share the new Netflix series about the iconic, queer fashion designer Halston with you, dear readers. Before the show hits next week, however, we recommend an introductory course.

Halston, the 2019 documentary film by director Frédéric Tcheng, revives the story of the titular fashion mogul who, by the 2000s had faded into near-obscurity. Tcheng frames the film as a detective story, with a fictional sleuth trying to uncover Halston’s lost legacy. Told through a variety of interviews–both contemporary and new–as well as a treasure trove of newly uncovered archive footage, Tcheng sketches Halson as an ambitious genius who parlayed his celebrity connections and eye for talent into a multi-million dollar fashion house with groundbreaking designs. Hubris, extravagance and maybe a gigantic supply of cocaine eventually made Halston into an arrogant terror before a corporate acquisition robbed him of his trademarked name and assets.

Halston argues that the designer has had a far reach on the fashion world, even if his name isn’t well-remembered by the public. His use of models of color, celebrity muses (in particular, Liza Minnelli), and fashion shows that played more like Broadway musicals all foreshadowed the current fashion world of pomp and stardom. Moreover, his eccentric designs, which often featured a single seam for a gown, remain unmatched in geometric innovation. Halston never lived to see the career renaissance he so deserved–he died of AIDS in 1990. Tcheng aims to rectify that here with his warts & all approach to a mad gay genius.

Featuring extended interviews with family, celebrity friends including Liza Minnelli, Joel Schumacher and Elsa Peretti, former models, employees, and even the corporate sharks that cost him his name, Halston is a captivating portrait of a great artist gone too soon. Watch the film to prepare for the new series, and prepare to fall in love with a fascinating story and dazzling designs.

Streams on Amazon, YouTube & VUDU.