That the coronavirus crisis has put so many film and television productions on hold, means that sometime in the next 12-18 months, there is going to be a period of watching almost nothing but reruns. However, Après ça, le deluge…of new releases.
One of those releases we are already eagerly anticipating is Simply Halston, the Ewan McGregor led Netflix biopic of the late and very famous fashion designer. The beloved Scottish actor will be executive producing, and also starring as the title character himself.
What had us most intrigued was the period recreation of the most stylish locations and people from the years that will be covered in the film, as Halston was notably a galvanizer of everything fabulous and fashionable during those decades—dressing celebrities the likes of Anjelica Huston, Lauren Bacall, Margaux Hemingway, Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger and Liza Minnelli. And for this very task was employed Cherish M. Hale, as set decorator, working in conjunction with Fennick NYC Props, easily the most exalted New York City prop house.
Hale has previously done the job for series’ the likes of Flight of the Conchords and The Affair, and even scored an Emmy nomination in 2018 for the Ben Stiller mini-series Escape at Dannemora.
“Mark Ricker, our fabulous production designer, invited me to join the club,” she recalls. “We had just done Escape at Dannemora together, which was a prison break series. This is a far cry from that. It really is a decorator’s dream, because Halston was such a style icon. The combo of the era, patterns and color paired with the costumes by Jeriana San Juan, will hopefully be stunning.”
Fennick’s CV is equally impressive, including three Spielberg films, the John Wick series, and most recently The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Joker, The Irishmen, and Hunters. The business was started by identical twin rock & roll brothers Rob and Ron Fennick as Lot 76, the legendary architectural antique lot in what is now NoLIta—and where clients included Andy Warhol, Baquiat, Helena Christensen, and eventually even Martha Stewart and Conan O’Brien.
But Ron points out that they are now “focused on having authentic vintage quantity and quality of inventory. Our warehouse is being compared to the Warner Brothers prop house In Burbank.” You can get a visual picture at their Instagram page.
Simply Halston goes all the way back to the designer’s youth, so Hale points out the challenge of recreating his childhood home from 1938. He passed away in 1990, aged 57—so authentic pieces had to be secured from Fennick for all three decades of his heyday, the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, of course.
“If you know anything about Halston,” Hale explains, “he had a huge love of color. In his budding career he was more into exotic patterns and textures, and later he moved into his more minimal aesthetic. The sets are a complete reflection of that: lots of changes from layered patterned fabrics to a shift to all red.”
It probably helped that her aunt regularly wore Halston’s fashions back then, giving her a familiarity with the styles. But deep diving into the visual language of his story led her to a greater understanding of his imitable genius—which remains significantly influential to this day.
Before the quarantine kicked in, she explains that she had been working closely with director Dan Minahan, whose previous credits include House of Cards, Game of Thrones and True Blood. But the 64,000 question is, had she gotten a chance to actually exchange ideas with McGregor?
“I work with Dan on a daily basis,” she says, “and we have a one on one about what he likes and doesn’t like. Thankfully there aren’t many dislikes. As for Ewan, I’ve met him few times and he is the most lovely person…but we haven’t had a real official one on one. It will probably happen after the coronavirus is over.”
No release date is at yet set for Simply Halston.