I thought the drama on Netflix was the Halston show I wanted to watch, even though I THOUGHT what I was looking for was a doco. I only lasted six minutes with Netflix, first substantive thing they showed was Halston picking up a guy in a bar, then knocking hard on the back door. YAWN. Learn how to write a script. Also, learn to research one. They refer, back in the day, to Ralph LAU-ren. Sorry, kids. Back when being an American designer was laughed at, he was Ralph Lau-REN, pronunciation changed when he started selling blue jeans at outrageous prices and thanking God he was a country boy. Next!
This documentary is the next choice, and the right choice. It's a morality tale that shows how easily we can go from living a higher existence to starting to think we can fly, it shows how corrosive corporate America is, how dangerous ambition can be when given free rein, how it can cost a fortune to live cheaply. Many lessons in this, but I think the paramount one is that we need to be strong, to stand up to evil, to oppose it, but don't make the mistake of thinking you can beat it at its own game, that's playing right into its hands. Halston was screwed over, but none of it happened without his cooperation, and the hubris that led him to do it. His fashion is one legacy we can learn from, but not the only.
Personally, this was hard to watch, because I lived through these days in New York, and I had ancillary contact with some of the dust created by these people. I held my breath rather than breathed it in. Toxic. Some of the people interviewed are good to listen to, others are the tiresome types who went from their "do you know who I am?" back then to today's even more pathetic "do you know who I was?" And being reminded of Victor Hugo made me look for the Gas-X.
The worst part, though, is the reminder of the beginning of the AIDS pandemic. I'm a straight woman, so wasn't in the kind of danger that gay men were, but it was a horrifying experience, and one that claimed Halston, among so many others, designers in particular that I loved to wear (ready-to-wear, not couture!) like Willi Smith and Perry Ellis. A kaleidoscope of symptoms, manifestations and suffering, compounded by the cruelty of the ignorant, stupid and bored, the deceit and obfuscation, unchecked loss and devastation. I’m telling you, if you think dying is the worst thing that can happen to you, you haven’t lived.