Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Valentino: The Last Emperor

If you love and respect fashion then you must see Matt Tyrnauer’s engagingly delicious documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor, which follows and glimpses the life of one of the last great couturiers of our time Valentino Garavani, known to the world as the diminutive, impossibly tanned to an inch of his life, and impeccably dressed designer with a luxury lifestyle to match (the villas, yacht, 5 pet pugs...). The film takes us through Valentino's rise to the top of the fashion world, dressing the most glamorous women in the world in his diaphanous gowns, including the very glamorous Jackeline Kennedy Onassis. The film also poignantly focuses on the fiercely loyal but sometimes cantankerous relationship between Valentino and his life and business partner of 50 years Giancarlo Giametti, who is also the business mastermind behind the company's massive success.

We watch as Valentino effortlessly sketches his Spring/Summer Couture 2006 collection, meticulously supervises fittings, and sees his dresses come to life by the superbly talented hands of his seamstresses who hand-sew each dress and sequin without any sewing machines in sight. I also loved seeing flickers of Valentino's cheeky wit, like when he horrifyingly recalled Rome's Ara Pacis Museum (where he ultimately showed his retrospective dress installation) as 'sad looking' with unattractive stair railings that 'looked like Macys'. The film also covers the beautifully over the top 45th anniversary celebrations of Valentino's reign in fashion as well as his emotional final couture show and subsequent retirement shortly after. This biography really moved me, and I watched with teary eyes the end of an era, when impeccable workmanship, hand-made couture finishes, and beautifully feminine and elegant gowns were simply what made women happy......

Photos courtesy of newsweek.com, runway images borrowed from style.com, boston.com , mnfilmtv.org

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