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Who is designer Ed Austin? Halston's boyfriend featured in Netflix show

Leigh McManus May 17, 2021
ed austin designer

Who is designer Ed Austin? People want to know more about Halston’s former lover after Netflix released a new miniseries about the fashion icon.

Who is designer Ed Austin?

Ed Austin, a designer in his own right, is perhaps most well-known for his relationship with Roy Halston Frowick, more commonly known simply as Halston, one of the US’s most renowned designers.

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According to Halston biographer Steve Gaines, the pair first met at a tea dance on Fire Island, a famous gay vacation spot in New York, in 1964.

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Austin was talking to friends when the designer sent him a drink. Austin reportedly replied: “I don’t accept drinks from strangers [but] send a drink back from me to whoever sent it.”

The pair hit it off and became romantically involved and dated casually for six years, but Austin complained that Halston never revealed this to anyone.

“He kept me hidden away from his friends,” said Austin to Gaines. “He wouldn’t take me out to dinner publicly. I still don’t know the reason for that, unless he was trying to protect his image.”

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Austin became the manager of Halston’s boutique and dresser of its windows until a later romantic partner, Victor Hugo, took over.

According to Newsweek, before Halston’s company was sold, Austin was also an assistant designer and vice president. The same publication states that Austin was the only Black designer to have a couture business on Madison Avenue, New York City through his company Austin Zuur.

Austin later worked at Givenchy and Yves St. Laurent in Paris, before moving to Texas to work as a costume designer. Later he went to California to become a curator and died in 2003.

Who plays Austin in Netflix’s Halston?

Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix miniseries sees Sullivan Jones cast as Ed Austin. The San Franciscan studied theatre at Brown University for two years, before leaving school to more avidly pursue a career in acting.

He has since studied at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre and the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television, according to IMDB.

Sullivan is best known for his roles in The Looming Tower, Wu-Tang: An American Saga, and The Politician.

Austin and Halston’s relationship in the Netflix series

Halston’s family called the series “an inaccurate, fictionalised account.” In real life, Austin and Halston’s introduction was different to how it was portrayed in the show. In the show we see Halston try to pick up Austin in a bar, where he’s drinking alone.

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Austin initially refuses, saying he never accepts drinks from strangers, but eventually accepts. In reality, the pair met at a tea dance on Fire Island and Austin was happy to accept the drink sent to him by Halston, eventually seeking him out at the party.

Austin is the first man Halston tries to pick up in the premiere. He asks Halston, played by Ewan McGregor: “What is it about me that caught your eye? Why are you trying to pick me up and not anybody else?”

Austin wants the designer to acknowledge the fact that he’s trying to pick up the only black male in the room. “I’m not like anybody else,” Halston replies, flipping the focus back to himself. “I’ve been an outsider, too, my whole life.”

Publication Them criticised the comparison of growing up gay in the Midwest and being black in America.

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Leigh is a 26-year-old journalist from the north of Ireland. He studied International Journalism at Liverpool John Moores University, where he earned a 2:1 grade. He has worked for Mail Online and has experience with the Liverpool Echo, Irish Mirror and SWNS. Leigh is also a huge music fan and has his own show on a community radio station.