Friday, November 20, 2009
Valentino: The Last Emperor ***
Director: Matt Tyrnauer
It feels entirely appropriate that this documentary about iconic fashion designer Valentino is musicalized with melancholic Nino Rota pieces from Fellini films; because you don't need to know a thing about fashion to identify with the film's ultimate message.
That is, the passing of time and the loss of values our society once held dear. But this isn't as reactionary as it sounds; because those "values" being substituted are completely subjective and have to be interpreted by the watcher according to their own system of beliefs.
Set between the years 2005-07, as Valentino Garabani created one of his most successful recent collections and culminating with the celebration of his 45th anniversary in the business, the film takes a deep look at his creative process and his relationship with Giancarlo Giammetti, his life and work companion.
It also shows how Valentino must stand up for his beliefs when his design house is bought by multimillionaire Matteo Marzotto, who intends to branch out into accessories and fragrances, ending with what was then the last real couture house.
For some this documentary will prove to be a love song to frivolity and excess as they will question what values can people like these have when the entire world is going through harsh economic times.
The truth is such points of view are completely valid and director Tyrnauer allows us to question his film's purpose without ever parodying Valentino.
On the other hand the movie is a sad account of decay and the end of "la dolce vita". Valentino not only represents glamor and money, but also the last icon of an era that was populated by the likes of Audrey, Jackie and Elizabeth.
They might never have been our friends but the idea we created of them sum up what Valentino calls "beauty". And boy do we need doses of that lately.