Friday, December 25, 2009

Valentino: The Last Emperor

My wife and I recently screened the potential Oscar documentary nominee Valentino: The Last Emperor. The film documents the story of Valentino Garavani, the Italian fashion designer, particularly paying attention to his 45th and final year in the industry as founder of his own historic fashion empire.

As a person who doesn't pay attention to the fashion world, the story was not just interesting to me because it introduced me to the escentric Valentino, but because the film also showed the unique hidden world of the fashion industry.

To see all these women hand sewing on command sequins on to dress accessories, and people prounce around on command was pretty unique. Not to mention, the extravagance of Valentino's celebration and the creation of runway props.

The film is interesting because it doesn't gush over Valentino success, instead it points out his image awareness, his obliviousness to the business and staff around him, and his love for his six pugs. The film also seems to make a case for Valentino's second in command, ex-boyfriend Giancarlo Giammetti might really be the one who has helped Valentino create his empire, playing by Valentino's rules but applying the finesse needed to balance Valentino and the real world around him.

As the creator of the iconic Valentino Red (with dresses Valentino does not prefer but calls "the silliest of them all") this film documents and interesting person at an interesting time in life. Director Matt Tyrnauer has certainly chosen a colorful subject for his debut film and did nice work in allowing time for the camera to really find some personal moments.

I can't say this is my favorite documentary of the year, but I'm glad I've watched it and will be interesting to see if the Academy Awards selects this film to honor it with a nomination.

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