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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 »
In the closing credits, the archival footage from ZIEGFELD GIRL is credited as a "Warner Brothers" movie. It was an MGM movie but is released on home video by Warner Home Video. See more »
Well, we don't want to have nasty rails do we?
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I love when people are really, deeply passionate about something. While I'm not a big fan of sports, I love to listen to my friends give the details of their latest game or match; even though the actual event isn't particularly interesting to me, the fact that it means so much to someone (especially someone close to me) makes it far more interesting. Valentino: The Last Emperor shows a man who is passionate about fashion; he never thought of being a firefighter or anything else. Even in the midst of financial shuffling and lavish celebrations, Valentino never loses sight of why he does what he does: he wants to make beautiful clothes for beautiful women.
And his passion is contagious. After a show, he is greeted by fans who are in tears at the sheer genius of what they see on the runway. It's impossible not to be as impressed as they are; while the fashion, in this film, takes a backseat to the man himself, it is still breath- taking. Just as Ratatouille allows you to brush with what it means to love food on a deeper lover, so this film allows a glimpse into what it means to really love fashion.
Of course, fashion isn't the only thing on display here; Valentino himself is a fascinating subject for a documentary. On one hand, he's a genius. On the other, he's a diva (though it really isn't that surprising that those two go hand-in-hand). The little moments this film shows--the glimpses of Valentino's everyday life--provide a sense of a life that seems like it's from another planet. A model getting her hair done reads about Einstein. Five pugs line up on the seats of a private jet. Valentino tells his partner and lover Giancarlo Giametti that the design for a stage isn't right, mere hours before the show must go on.
Yet, even with the tantrums and mood swings (at times, Valentino yells at the cameraman, providing a strange sense of reality TV), you get the sense that Valentino really hasn't been affected by the power and money he's accumulated over the years. He simply wants to make sure that his work is presented in the best way possible. And what work it is. At the celebration of Valentino's 45 year career, his dresses line the walls, sit atop columns, and rest within glass cubes. Each piece represents a time so perfectly, because no designer is as important or relevant as Valentino.
As much as the film celebrates his past, Valentino's future is also discussed to a great degree. The question is asked: who can follow in Valentino's footsteps, when he inevitably retires? The answer is obvious: nobody can. There's only one Valentino, the Last Emperor of fashion.
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