VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR
Documentary on the fashionable life, work and love of the legendary designer Valentino Garavani
Matt Tyrnauer, Director
A friend invited me to the press preview of the new Valentino documentary today in San Francisco. It’s a must see for any sewing enthusiast, as the scenes in the atelier are truly wonderful. If you love beautiful clothes and fabrics, mount an expedition to go see this film. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have limited engagements, but I noticed that the film’s website has a button to click to ‘bring the film to your city’.
I am waiting for the day that it is released on DVD, so that I can pause it to take in the details shown of the making of the garments. We get to see the process from Valentino sketching, to him working with his chef d’atelier, to the cutting and draping of the garment. Finally there are the fittings, and the runway. The director, Vanity Fair editor Matt Tyrnauer, said he wanted ‘the viewers to feel that they knew how to make a couture dress by the time the film was over’.
Valentino shows flashes of a wicked humor, and more than a little of that prima donna behavior alluded to in the title of the film. There is archival footage to bring the arc of his career into focus. Lots of time is spent showing us the struggle to keep control of the house once it goes public and the fabric house Marzotto gains a bigger and bigger share. The bean-counters ultimately win, and within months Valentino is gone.
The film has made the rounds of international film festivals after being introduced in Venice. Tyrnauer says it’s ultimately a love story, about Valentino and his partner Giancarlo Giammetti. Maybe so but for me what remains are the ethereal dresses, especially as shown in the 45th anniversary celebration in Rome in 2007 that is the centerpiece of the movie. It’s a lovely window on another world, fast disappearing