Fashion designer Jeriana San Juan is certainly no stranger to recreating iconic looks from the past few decades. Her previous TV shows include "The Get Down" and "The Plot against America". Now, she is nominated for an Emmy Award for Netflix's limited series "Halston", which covers the life and creation of this veritable real-life fashion designer, from making hats for his mother when he was a child to working with Martha Gray Um’s cooperation was only a few years before his death.
When dealing with ancient works, there is always a limit to what can be obtained from real time, but in Halston, you may be more limited due to the customization business. How does this affect your series plan?
His works are hard to buy, not to mention that when I find Halstons in the market or at antique dealers who specialize in designers, they often wear out badly. That's because I really, really believe that women are happy in their Halston dresses! They are [covered in] candle wax and cigarette burns and liquor. Therefore, for our purposes, they are usually not worth looking very fresh on the runway.
In that case, is it more cost-effective to make a new one than to restore it?
There are many different elements involved-the actors we are wearing-the genius of these clothes is that they are very simple. However, in many cases, the structure of Halston dresses is like complicated origami, so even cutting one piece is very, very difficult. They are also often biased, which is tricky-they can stretch and grow in interesting ways over time. Creating new things has indeed become more time-saving and cost-effective.
When you can’t use the original version, when to copy the real Halston, and when to create something in its style but be free to be creative, what is your philosophy?
Many of the works in this series are real works, their provenance is outdated and placed in the right place in our story, and then many designs took place. I would say that most people are really [Halston]'s voice, this is to truly capture the spirit, energy and freshness he created; this is not exactly a copy of the text.
Dealing with such things feels very scary, because there are so many pitfalls. I know that this kind of show will attract very discerning audiences and discerning people, and many of his contemporaries are still alive-but not so far in the past. So, for this reason, you know that people will look at this issue with their own memories and their own experiences, and will make a lot of comparisons. This is also the time when the shooting is very good-many of the events, people and locations are well documented. When I do anything, I want to be a true storyteller and truly root everything in authenticity. I do this because I want to accurately portray his clothes and his world. And [I want] to find a place and a perspective to tell the story. I think this is the most important part of developing a visual language for the show that helps educate the audience. I have been making this show for loyal fans of Halston, people who have noticed his world from the inside out, and people who don't know him at all. I can help them visually guide people to understand how revolutionary his clothes are.
With the exploration of the show, he used the same fabrics in the early stages, which will constitute his final product, which became a problem of his budget. I think even with Netflix's budget, you can't do this with the most expensive fabrics, so how do you deal with the partially completed skirts instead of the final runway look you mentioned earlier?
I tested different materials with the camera just to see how the camera affects crepe de chine, georgette, silk and satin. We will process many different raw materials on the camera, we want to see the most attractive things, of course, but also to truly reflect the materials Halston does use, such as his hammered silk. There are many places where we have to cheat because we are a show with a limited budget, but we will find a way to make something with truly luxurious and elegant fabrics with beautiful drape.
A large part of my work on "Halston" is done through the arrangement of many of these costume creations that take place in the camera. I will use a cheaper polyester blend to make this fabric bleed, because we do have a limited budget and we don’t have a room lined with white orchids. I will simulate a piece of clothing and try different changes and photograph these changes so that we can finally find the target we want. Then once we get close to strict choreography, that's when I enter the real material.
I can't work exactly like Halston, but I appreciate what he did because he cut out all the nonsense and went straight to the material because he wanted to find out exactly how the material works. Cotton, satin, silk or any other different thread counts will have different drape properties. Therefore, as a person as strict as him, I can fully understand how and why he did this.
How did you use the Ace bandage in the final ballet design?
It was written into the script, and some other elements are not necessarily written like this, "He created a single-stitched gown on her." They were like, "He created a dress." So, creating When a piece of clothing, I really have to go back to what he was doing? And really started to develop what is the right information to tell us the clothes we create, and then how do we go backwards to create visual effects on the camera? In a way, I am really good at telling stories visually; this is a gift of this job. When we found the ace bandages and made "Persephone", I just ran to a pharmacy and sent my assistant to another pharmacy and another pharmacy, and we collected a lot of Ace bandages. There is no template to use, but knowing that it exists in our story, I really want to see something to convey his great creativity and convey his use of creating symmetry and geometric shapes on the body.
I have our clothing coordinator, he is like my internal Halstonette, wearing leggings and tank top, I just sit next to her and bandage her in a million different ways. I will take photos and videos and review them with our director Dan Minahan. I found some different shapes that he particularly likes. I think [owns] the beginning of an idea—the small idea The seeds will eventually mature and be fully realized on stage later.
So, all of this is carefully designed, and then finally fixed intact and made into these crazy things, so that we can let the actors walk into them that day.
In this case, how are you able to adapt to different bodies?
It's not special. Everyone is very different, so it is complicated, but I really live in terms of touch, fabric, material and drape. This is where I often find creative sparks in costume design. So, many times, I just take the materials, start dripping on the dress form, and start looking for ideas. So, this is no stranger to me. In fact, it was cultivated when I was very, very young. My grandmother taught me how to sew, how to handle materials and drape, and began to imagine things that didn't exist. I really owe this to her. Throughout my life and my entire career, I really found that sometimes when you manipulate fabrics, design clothing forms, or collaborate with models, those magical moments really happen. Look for shape on the body. For me, this is where magic happens sometimes.
Thinking hard about how we can end this story and his work visually makes my heart very heavy. Really, I just think I have him on my shoulders. I feel that I must always see things through Halston’s eyes and create things in his voice. Therefore, in order to do this, I really have to learn the DNA of his voice, not only what he created in his career Things, but [and] what developed his visual aesthetics, and what designers would he look for when he cultivated his aesthetics? What kind of music does he like, and who are there around him? This is an important part of my research, because I really want to know his voice, real and sacred.
His voice and his designs have changed over time, but they are so unique and fashionable, so what impact does this have on your wearing in everyday scenes?
At some point, Halston’s life, creativity, and career became synonymous: he became a walking brand, which is an important part of his story, and an important part of his legacy—how he really leaned toward the brand and Marketing. For me, this became a visually obvious point. Therefore, transforming everyone from a very personal look to a very different color palette that lives in the same fabric, as if they were all produced in the same studio with the same materials. This is a very conscious choice to reflect this brand image. He does wear clothes for everyone from his lover to his Halstonettes in the current collection, and it is also a very conscious choice.
What is your favorite Halston look in this show?
This is a "Sophie's Choice" moment [but I will] say that my favorite series on this show is the tie-dye series. It came from the thin air and the collection of research I had to get, I even started to understand what tie-dye he was doing, the colors he used were very wide. I had to walk around, from the text comments on his early tie-dye work to some pictures in Patricia Mears' book, to the editorial pictures in the Condé Nast archives of Vogue. I have to combine all these different images and imagine a series made exclusively of batik and tie-dye.
I suggested to Dan that I think we should make the premier tie-dye series that we show in the showroom because it makes sense to transition us from the 60s to the 70s. Tie-dye is closely related to Woodstock. It feels like it was the birthplace of hippie culture, but everything he did with it really took it to a whole new level.
This is really a wonderful moment to celebrate the patterns and colors and his gowns, which are so iconic. In my design mind, I am hosting a complete party!
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