Valentino: The Last Emperor
Quirk, glamor, and what six pugs have to do with the epic battle of art versus commerce.
By Maria Popova
The world of fashion — you either love it or hate it. But regardless of where you may fall on the spectrum, it’s hard not to love Valentino: The Last Emperor — an incredibly engaging and entertaining documentary-but-oh-so-much-more about the legendary designer. Because it’s not a story about fashion, it’s a story about passion and love and the charming, stubborn, heartfelt quirk of genius.
Earlier this year, the film swept the independent film festival circuit with phenomenal critical acclaim. From director Matt Tyrnauer, it offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at Valentino’s half-century reign as a true emperor of fashion, focusing on the years between his 70th birthday and his dramatic final couture show. It bespeaks the epic struggle of art against commerce, as the label is forced into a corporate takeover and Valentino has to reconcile his passion for style with the urgency of figures.
But putting all the glamor (he dressed Jackie Kennedy), eccentricity (his six pugs ride in private jets) and grandeur (the Alpine mountain house is astounding) aside, perhaps what makes the film most fascinating is the candid and touching human story between Valentino and his one-time life partner and now business partner, Giancarlo Giammetti.
In this excellent interview, Tyrnauer talks about the incredible world that unfolded before him as he peeled apart Valentino in 270 hours of footage shot over 2 years.
Valentino: The Last Emperor is out today on DVD.
Published September 8, 2009