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A story of friendship, a retrospective, and a look at haute couture as business: we watch Valentino Garavani (1932- ) and partner Giancarlo Giammetti from preparation for the 2006 Spring/Summer Collection in Paris to a July 2007 retrospective of Valentino's 45-year career, which included dressing Jacqueline Kennedy. The film documents a year of work, shows, business changes, and decisions. We follow a creation from sketch to runway: he's always in pursuit of beauty. We're in Paris, Rome, and Venice. He receives the French Legion of Honor medal; his acceptance speech brings tears. Reporters ask when he'll retire. Is the Roman retrospective his career's finale? Cue Puccini. Written by
As told to Elvis Mitchell on KCRW's The Treatment (May 6, 2009), Director Matt Tyrnauer recounted that the film almost never made it to a commercial release. Both Giancarlo and Valentino hated the film on first viewing during a private screening in London and "were completely in shock". Although Tyrnauer had final cut, it took him over five months of negotiations before finally showing the film at the Venice film festival. At Venice the entire audience stood and gave a standing ovation to Valentino after the screening and Valentino apparently now loves the film. See more »
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Well, we don't want to have nasty rails do we?
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"Valentino: The Last Emperor" is an interesting look at the Valentino empire and the changing times in which it exists. It follows Valentino and his partner in life and work, Giancarlo Giametti, as they prepare for a show and later, Valentino's 45 anniversary as a designer.
The fluff stuff first - the fashions are amazing. Valentino designs a beautiful white gown at one point, and we watch his critique of the finished product, and whether or not to add sequins and extra panels. We also see some of the people for whom he has designed over the years: Princess Diana, Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name only a few. And we see a lot of his signature red gowns. Also, as a second comment on the fluff, Valentino, Giametti and their many pug dogs live like kings, with magnificent homes everywhere!
The more serious undertone in this documentary is the changing world of fashion and what has become the business of fashion. There are interviews throughout about this - the world today is about the bottom line, which means scents, designer handbags, and other accessories. The couture isn't the big moneymaker, but it is what Valentino has devoted his life to. As an artist who is proud of his work and committed to it, we see increasingly that the businessmen are less interested in Valentino the artist and more interested in Valentino the brand. It's a world he no longer belongs in.
The best parts of this film for me were the times when Valentino was watching the gowns on the models and making decisions on changes - truly the artist at work. That kind of devotion to detail is so rare today. It was a joy to watch.
You probably won't learn much about the man himself here, but you will learn something about his work -- and as an artist in the truest sense, that is Valentino's true essence.
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