Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)

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The eponymous documentary is highlighting the life of one Valentino Garavani, an Italian fashion designer who were known for his haute couture, the signature Valentino reds, and being the last of true fashion couturier. Matt Tyrnauer, the director, was a Vanity Fair Special Correspondent who wrote a feature story in 2004 about the true nature of Valentino and his multi-role partner Giancarlo Giammetti. Through the film, Tyrnauer chronicled the last 2 years of Valentino, providing the viewer the final glimpse of his private life before his retirement from the fashion world and his 45th year anniversary and final haute couture show.

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Valentino love for fashion began at the movies, seeing beautiful ladies on the silver screen bedecked in glamorous frocks, sequins, and laces. He quoted that seeing Judy Garland, Lana Turner, and Hedy Lamarr in 1941 Ziegfeld Girl become his first encounter with fashion and he know that is his passion for the rest of his life, creating beautiful clothes. Valentino proven to be gifted and able to create art through fashion, but the business end presented a problem in Valentino’s early years, until he met his life-long partner, Giancarlo Giammetti. The two finally able to nurture Valentino into a multi-million dollar fashion label, attracting socialites and actresses alike, beautiful women from around the globes were enamored by his couture. But the struggle does not end, Giammetti constantly have to struggle coping with both business end of the label as well as taking care of Valentino fragile ego as both a lover and a partner, who refuse his label to become a commercialized vehicle reduced to accessories and perfumes.
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In 2005 we begin when Valentino showcase his latest collection and we are able to follow his creative process when he created his craft, how he worked with his teams of seamstress, and the hectic environment of a fashion show backstage. The second half of the film focuses on his 45th anniversary as a fashion designer and the huge celebration that was thrown in his honor. Intermixed throughout the 90-minute runtime, are interviews with various individuals in the fashion industry and an enlightening perspective on Valentino from his long-time partner Giammetti. Giammetti point of view is reflected in this film, it’s almost as if we saw Valentino from his eyes, a man with undoubtable brilliance and required a lot of patience to deal with (like Giammetti once said in this documentary in his exasperated yet adoring musings). We saw Valentino not as a formidable figure, but as a man who love what he does and just could not bear to give up his artistic ego despite his lack of understanding for the politics in the fashion world beyond draping gorgeous silks on his beautiful muse. I think this is what made this particular documentary a stood out amongst other fashion documentaries i reviewed this month. Instead of focusing on the luxury and the glitz and glam, this documentary serve sobering facts about the intricacies of fashion world.
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Valentino: The Last Emperor is one of the best fashion documentary i came across so far (and the best one i’ve seen that focused on a designer). Bill Cunningham: New York, reviewed by N for her third moviecube this month is another. The film offer a neutral eye looking at the beautiful hand-stitched couture of Valentino, a view of the man through his lover eye, and a worthy finale of the last couturier. And like Giammetti said, “It was beautiful”.

VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR (2008)

GENRE Documentary
DIRECTOR Matt Tyrnauer | PRODUCER Matt Kapp, Matt Tyrnauer | MUSIC Joel Goodman | CINEMATOGRAPHER Tom Hurwitz | EDITOR Bob Eisenhardt, Frédérick Tcheng | DISTRIBUTOR Acolyte Films | COUNTRY United States | RUNNING TIME 96 minutes | RATING PG-13 for some nudity and language | RELEASE March 18, 2009
STARRING Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino Garavani
FEATURING Karl Lagerfeld, Andre Leon Talley, Giorgio Armani, Matthew Broderick, Michael Caine, Joan Collins, Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, Alessandra Facchinetti, Anne Hathaway, Elizabeth Hurley, Elle Macpherson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane von Fürstenberg, Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep, Claudia Schiffer.

Stills are partially from IMDb |Official Site | Trailer


This post is a part of 2013 September’s MovieCube.

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One thought on “Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)

  1. Pingback: Monthly Digest: 2013 September | KaramelKinema

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