Sunday, May 3, 2009

Valentino: The Last Emperor

Valentino Garavani seems like one of the most influential fashion designers of the past century. For 45 years, he's made countless dresses, for actresses like Julia Roberts, that are very interesting and take more than a second to analyze and take in. I don't know quite a lot about fashion, and I'm not that involved in it. But I can see the effect that Valentino had on the industry and how his eccentric personality rendered him hard to work with. "Valentino: The Last Emperor" is pretty much a behind-the-scenes look at Valentino towards the end of his career that shows how he prepares for his huge retrospective.

It is one of those typical pieces that shows how life is for the fashion master, meaning quick scenes and a quirky tone. Here, it's hard to really focus since it jumps very quickly from scene to scene. The cuts are pretty much never longer than 5 seconds, which can be hard to follow if you're not terribly into fashion. Matt Tyraneur is a first-time director, and this documentary would be kind of a big start for a rookie (due to it's high-glam celebrities and all). But for the viewer it can be a little bit of a tedious pain. It's also quite self-indulgent, especially the lavish finale, with the Coliseum painted "Valentino Red" and dancers on wires coming from the sky. This seems to be much of the focus. I was much more interested in Valentino's inspirations. As a young boy, he went to the movies and saw the likes of Judy Garland, Lara Turner, etc. in garish dresses and decided he wanted to do more of the same. I really liked the scene where he constructed a white, asymmetrical dress with sequins that as I said before took more than two seconds to take in.

His personality is a big theme in this film as he throws small fits about, well, somewhat insignificant things. He also has a thing for pugs; he has a few and they roam free through most of his work period. This detail is somewhat of plus for such a movie. "Valentino: The Last Emperor" is any fashion lover's dream, since they'll be able to get what they like from a lukewarm doc. I understand Valentino more as a result of this film, and I believe it portrayed him well, as it shows a man keeping soul and fashion together. Valentino is a man that will seldom be less interesting than the film he doesn't want to be in. C+

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