May 16, 2021—To be honest, I was worried. I was very worried Elsa Peretti’s part in the Netflix series Becoming Halston was going to focus on her infamous battles with Halston, their fast-living and partying ways. Over the years so many stories have rehashed this one-dimensional, but admittedly captivating, side of the relationship between the two super talents. I thought executive producer Ryan Murphy might take that route considering lots of his work is over-the-top.
I am delighted to report their characters are drawn with much more depth. The series captures how the twosome inspired, understood and supported each other. Halston, convincingly portrayed by Ewan McGregor, relies on Elsa for her opinion and creative contribution. Elsa, wonderfully played by French-born actress Rebecca Dayan, is funny, smart and totally confident.
One historic moment brought to life in the series occurs in Episode 3, “The Sweet Smell of Success.” Halston asks Elsa to make his fragrance bottle. Her creative process and work with glass blowers is depicted in a montage recreating real photos of Elsa. It was a series that demonstrated Elsa was much more than a “model turned designer.” She had visionary ideas and found ways to execute them.
In another episode, Elsa talks about re-signing and negotiating her contract after five years with Tiffany. She understood what she brought to the bottom line. Elsa’s confidence and business acumen is a detail often overlooked in her legendary career. Her character is also accurately shown to be much less frivolous than Halston.
When Halston has had too much cocaine and has a battle with Elsa that makes her leave Halston’s creative squad for good, she is missed. In real life she began to spend more time at her home in Sant Martí Vell, a very small Catalonian village in Spain. It was a sanctuary where she found a creative outlet throughout her life restoring her home and other buildings. It was also near her key craftsman in Barcelona during the 1970s
In terms of the jewelry in Becoming Halston, naturally Peretti pieces shine throughout. One item that stands out above all is the Bone cuff. It appears on Dayan as well as Liza Minnelli who is portrayed by Krysta Rodriguez and various models. Dayan flaunts Elsa’s famous mesh bra under a button-down shirt during a business meeting. She sports one of Elsa’s Equestrian Belts and so does Krysta. In one sexy scene Dayan has a man in bed and a bathroom on while she talks to Halston on the phone fully bejeweled in silver rings and an Open Bottle Pendant.
Dayan wears Peretti’s eye-catching Scorpion necklace and so does Halston’s lover Victor Hugo, played by Venezuelan actor Gian Franco Rodriguez. At the end of the film Franco cleverly has a couple of Elsa’s Diamonds-by-the-Yard necklaces wrapped around his neck as a choker. In fact the amazing styling of Elsa’s jewels on Franco are perhaps more of a reflection of the way men wear jewelry now than the unisex mode of the 1970s.
Peretti objects decorate the set. Her heart boxes are used for Halston’s steady supply of cocaine. Silver and terracotta bone candlesticks appear in Halston’s homes. The Peretti is woven so seamlessly throughout the set design, I almost felt like it was a mistake when Liza and Halston have Thanksgiving à deux in Montauk and their utensils are not by Elsa.
Other nice jewelry true-to-life details costume designer Jeriana San Juan incorporated into the production include the vintage diamond plaque pendant Liza wore throughout the 1970s. It was one of the few pieces in the performer’s jewelry collection that wasn’t Peretti. She also put Martha Graham played by Mary Beth Peil in a recreation of the choreographer’s dramatic David Webb necklace for a dinner at Halston’s apartment in New York.
Before the ending credits all the characters whereabouts are put up on screen one-by-one. Elsa Peretti is described as “one of the most influential jewelry designers of the 20th century.” The statement was like a punctuation point on the perfect portrayal of Peretti.
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