Thursday, October 8, 2009

What I’ve been watching:

Valentino, the Last Emperor
This documentary film follows the iconic fashion designer Valentino at the end of his career (he retired in 2007 after one last show). He is known for his elegant and glamorous dresses—he has dressed many big stars, and for the red Valentino dress. He is indeed a great designer. This film concentrates more on his lifestyle and his relationship with his partner of 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti, than on his fashions and it is truly a look into the world of the rich and famous. Valentino owns 6 homes and a yacht. He employs a Majordomo who keeps all of the houses in tip top shape. The houses are museums unto themselves. In the film there is a celebration of the career of Valentino which is as spectacular as a Cirque du Soleil show. I can’t imagine how many thousands of dollars (millions maybe?) it took to put on this exhibition. Being a naïve middle class person from Kansas, I could not relate to this lifestyle on any level. It was beyond my wildest dreams. But I also didn’t get much sense of Valentino’s personality. He always took his 5 pugs with him everywhere he went and being a dog lover myself that says a lot for him but beyond that… He did publicly express appreciation for his partner, he held a party for his employees where he gave them gifts. I expected to see a party of seamstresses but instead they were all PR people. We saw him quickly draw a dress design and hand it to his head seamstress with instructions. She commented that she’s the one who actually makes the dress so I wondered if he was a good person to work for—if he gave his seamstresses the credit they deserve. I thought this was an interesting film but not a particularly exciting one. I like to see people at work and there wasn’t enough of that in the film to interest me. This was made as an homage to Valentino and though he’s certainly worthy of that honor it doesn’t make for a riveting film experience. As with the film Coco Chanel this documentary will grab the attention of those who are interested in fashion but anyone else will probably be bored.

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