‘Halston’ Review: Ewan McGregor Glides Through Ryan Murphy’s By-the-Book Netflix Biopic

For a series where Vera Farmiga creates perfume by wrapping a used jock strap around her face and Ewan McGregor screams “Get it, Sassy!” at his starry-eyed assistant when the office runs low on cocaine, the most surprising aspect of “Halston” is how ordinary it feels.

But Murphy and fellow writer-producer Ian Brennan imbue even the most mirthful scenes with lingering gloom, honing in on Halston’s loss of identity fairly early on, and that choice — in its own weird, inadequate way — helps make up for the show never giving him much of one to begin with.

To hear it from “Halston,” one would expect to gaze out at the Kentucky Derby and see people squinting hopelessly into the sun, or baseball uniforms would end at the players’ pinstriped shoulders — such is the catastrophic fallout for this singular designer.

By the end of the first episode , he’s wooed the city’s top influencer, and he’s well on his way to becoming the mononymous force in fashion who conquered the Battle of Versailles and brought international respect to American designers.

All of that gets covered in Episode 2, as Halston enjoys the success of his ultrasuede innovation and gets bullied into participating in the 1973 fashion show.

That would be all well and good, if Victor didn’t also get Halston hooked on cocaine and create constant chaos for the formerly hard-working designer.

But “Halston” doesn’t really focus on that.

Ryan Murphy rose to prominence working with Fox, whether it was through broadcast hits like “Glee” or FX award-winners like “Nip/Tuck” and “American Horror Story.” Even after starting another widely respected anthology series in “American Crime Story,” he signed a deal with Netflix to the tune of $300 million — and hasn’t made anything with artistic merit since.

Questions of legacy haunt the series: It’s the main reason Halston builds his empire in the first place, and it’s his greatest dread once he realizes what greed hath wrought.

But based on how little interest is shown in the Man Formerly Known as Roy — beyond all those famous friends and stylish surroundings — at least “Halston” offers something more than diligent recreations of the past.

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