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Krysta Rodriguez Brings the Liza Minnelli Halston Friendship to Life

Photography courtesy of Netflix Canada

How the actress, who played Minnelli in Netflix’s limited series ‘Halston’, prepared for this iconic role – and drowned in Halston’s fashion designs.

Before she was cast as veteran Broadway star Lisa Minnelli in the Netflix Limited series, Halston, Actor Krista Rodriguez was familiar with fashion designer Roy Halston’s personality, but that was its extent. “I didn’t know the full story of Halston’s journey and legacy, and what led to his anonymity as we see him nowadays,” she says. Rodriguez knew that Halston – portrayed by Scottish actor Evan McGregor – and Minnelli were from the same era, but had no idea about their intimate friendship and the common thread that held them together. “I had no idea how deeply they were trapped in each other’s lives and careers, and were actually creating each other as American icons.”

For her part, Rodriguez was already well versed in all things, until she landed in the role. The actor has an off-Broadway background and Minnelli has long been acclaimed in the Broadway world (he has four Tony Awards). In fact, Rodriguez was doing an off-Broadway drama that was in the intermission when it was revealed that he had been selected to play Minnelli. “But I still had to do research on that because you can’t know enough to think of anyone until you do that research,” she tells me from her home in Los Angeles. Rodriguez began to immerse himself in everything Minnelli did. “For months, there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t been reading or watching anything for months.”

Krysta rodriguez brings the liza minnelli halston friendship to life
Photography courtesy of Netflix Canada

Still, channeling Minnelli for the series – streaming now – was not something that came easily to Rodriguez. “I was very cautious and nervous about expressing the part properly,” she explains. “You have a lot of opportunities in the theater to get things right, and there are a lot of roles that you have to create from scratch because nobody really has a reference. But this was not the case with Liza: she is not only a legend but she is a living legend. The weight of what I was doing stayed with me the whole time. “

Rest in the creative process included the need to feel at home in Halston’s designs. “That’s why, for many reasons, costume designers wanted to build everything from scratch,” she explains. “Most everything was remodeled. Some of Halson’s pieces are in museums while other designs no longer exist. We wanted to create fresh designs to make them feel authentic to the wearers.”

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Photography courtesy of Netflix Canada

The buttercup-yellow pantsuit that Rodriguez wears in the scene where Minnelli marries second husband Jack Haley Jr., for example, was a recreation, designed to fit her carefully. Rodriguez told me, “This suit felt more authentic to me because if I had worn the actual Halston suit, I would have looked like someone was wearing a dress.” There is a pantsuit that Minelli wears in Studio 54 – New York City’s famous nightclub where Halston and Minnelli, along with other friends such as jewelery designer Elsa Peretti and model Bianca Jagger fixtures – were in a museum and could not be used . “Renowned fashion designer Naeem Khan – who was Halston’s hero in the seventies – recreated the pantsuit that he had with Halston’s original pattern. Because of COVID, he had time to do it,” she says . “It is as meticulous and close as you can get without the original.”

Rodriguez remembers a moment when Halston’s talent particularly impressed him. “I was in a fitting and I got to see some patterns,” she tells me. “I was in awe. The patterns were basically like decorative origami.” Rodriguez was drawn to how a lot of Halston’s clothes were minimal in design but complex in construction. “You with a theme Can do the whole dress and I don’t think I understood what it takes to make a dress like this. It seems wrapped around, but it is very carefully thought out and quite a mathematical process. It requires a lot of mental gymnastics to make something so complex looking, not to mention very clever fingers.

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Photography courtesy of Netflix Canada

Rodriguez states that while some of Halston’s pieces (for example a formal kaftan) may not be easily worn by women today, for the most part their designs are timeless. “I think what makes his fashion so classic is that they are for the bodies of all types of women. He was very deliberate about wearing clothes of all shapes and sizes and that’s what kept him universal as long as he did . They made fashion accessible to people in a way that was not really in front of them. “

In this day and age, Rodriguez believes that it is very difficult for a designer as Halston to be omnipresent. “It could be that the era of designers like Halston is gone forever,” she says. “That’s not to say that designers don’t have much influence today. Of course they do. But it’s like television. We used to be a society where everyone used to gather around a program. But now we’re in a place Going towards where we all get our own personal television network. I’m getting exaggerated but with social media the impact is so targeted that it’s almost impossible for everyone to see the same thing at the same time. “But seventy In the decade everyone looked towards Halston.

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Photography courtesy of Netflix Canada

Since the series wrapped up, Rodriguez has found himself looking at Halston once again. “I launched my interior design company last week, curated by Christa Rodriguez, and I was so inspired by Halston and Minnelli and their 1970s design aesthetic that it influenced my own design style,” she says. Indeed, before he lost the rights to design under his own name, Halston himself was proclaimed as a household name, trademarking everything from perfume to interior.

“We say this a lot and it’s true: Halston was the original influencer,” Rodriguez says. “He put his name on everything. And money was just one part of that equation: I think he just loved showing off and he liked being good at a lot of things. Being an arbiter of taste in every field There was a real high. “She pauses, then says,” And that was it. “

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