What was your research process like for Halston?
I studied extensive research. I often find replicating hues of colors from books, old magazines or photographs a challenge. In order to find authentic shades true to the
period, it is best to create a color scheme. Shades of lipsticks or blush often require the mixing and blending of colors in order to find the right hues that translate, for example, on the actor’s lips to match the era. Finding nuances requires tweaking. Whether it’s lipstick, blush, contour, eyeshadow, all needs to translate appropriately. We shot in high definition, a further challenge to replicating shades of colors. On occasion, it has happened that I was not aware of filters that were used, which can be a startling revelation, not necessarily the fun kind.
You shut down during filming due to Covid. What was that experience like?
We started filming Halston about four weeks before we got shut down. News started trickling in of other shows shutting down and of friends getting sick. We came in on a Friday the 13th in March and were sent home for two weeks which turned into seven months. I went on unemployment for the first time in my life! There were no shortage of worries, and of course losing friends to the virus was heartbreaking. You get to a place where you wonder if you should even go back to work. Eventually, I just wanted to get back to work. I love what I do, and especially in the last few years, I’ve gotten to do period projects which I really enjoy.
Whose makeup did you personally do?
Ewan McGregor portraying Halston, Krysta Rodriguez as Liza Minnelli and Kelly Bishop as Eleanore Lambert were my main characters. Margot Boccia took care of Rebecca Dayan’s recreation of Elsa Peretti. Claus Lulla did David Pittu as Joe Eula and Gian Franco Rodrigues as Victor Hugo, among others. Joseph A. Campayno and Michael Laudati ran our vast background department.
What was key to getting the look for Liza Minelli right?
Her eyes! Dr. Mitchell Cassel and Sandy Fenner at Studio Optix fit hand painted the dark brown Liza contact lenses for Krysta’s blue eyes. We were challenged by super sensitive eyes covered with contact lenses, and various amounts of long lashes and often heavy eye makeup. Zach Ripps, our lens tech, kept my heart at peace, just knowing he was on hand in case of trouble, especially during stage performance scenes. Part of the key was finding a balance of bringing Liza and Krysta’s faces together; Liza’s outer corner of eyes droop a touch, demanding a change of eye
shape with makeup. Many sets of lashes gave me great fun recreating Liza. Double layers of lashes, I usually cut just right. Krysta was such a joy and trouper; her Liza is simply wonderful. We portrayed Liza over decades from the early years in a more natural look; the Versailles days and stage performances featuring heavy ‘muddy brown’ contour ; then wedding days with a softer look; wild days of fun at Studio 54 in full-on big eyes, flashier makeup, and finally a touch more mature sophisticated look in the ‘80s.
What about Ewan McGregor as Halston?
I met Halston in the early ‘80s. He was stunning and his presence commanded attention in the room. Ewan brought that charismatic personality. I didn’t want to do any latex or aging makeup, I simply painted. Ewan is of an age where I could create fine lines and shadows by painting, or erase them with skincare. I often tweak my makeups after seeing the set and lighting, only then I would really know whether we were spot on. I would go through pictures and find little nuances to incorporate to help make the transition and tell the story. I never want to change an actor’s face to look completely different; It’s the actor’s craft that creates the character, we just find ways to support that and merge the two into one. I would do everything with highlights and shadow, painting some silver brow hair, darkening lashes or taking the color away…just little things to create what age brings you. And then it would just be Ewan. I thought he was fantastic.
What are the products you couldn’t have worked on this mini-series without?
Honestly, I use the same products. I can do foundation with just about anything but there are certain moments when RCMA is my best friend or I use Armani Luminous Silk
foundation. Those are my go-tos. The other products I loved using – YSL Touche Eclat, MAC Blacktrack Fluidline, Suratt Auto-Graphique eyeliner, Three Custom Color cream to powder blush. For lashes, I mixed and cut them all into needed shapes, some were by Kiss and some were Sephora’s mink lashes.
How difficult was it coming back to work with the new Covid restrictions?
There were times where I honestly questioned whether I could continue to work. I wear glasses only when I’m applying makeup, trying to get those on and off with a shield
and a mask, having both glasses and shield fog up continuously was really difficult. Hopefully that is in the past now! Still we got through it, I feel we did well all things
considered. Mike Moffa, our Covid safety department head, is much to thank for keeping us safe and healthy. Our collaborations with our hair department led by Michelle Johnson and especially with our gifted costume designer, Jeriana San Juan, and her team was essential and joyful. As was being led by our director, Dan Minahan. Beyond all, it was my fantastic crew and their continued beautiful makeups and unwavering support that got me through it.
Words Shannon Levy
Photos Jojo Whilden, Atsushi Nishijima Giovanni Rufino
All courtesy of Netflix