Friday night Raquel and I had a fashionista date to see Valentino: The Last Emperor at the film forum. The film was quite pretty, although not so lavishly over the top that it felt vulgar and out of touch (line that Valentino himself has walked carefully in his career).
Matt Tyrnauer, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, started the film after writing a profile of Valentino and his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti and their relationship. Serendipitously, as Tyrnauer was working on the project, the Valentino Company was sold and Valentino decided to celebrate his 45th anniversary with a retrospective and weekend long party in Rome. Shortly after Valentino announced his retirement, something many heralded as the end of the couture tradition.
I hadn't read much about the film before we went, and was surprised that it focused less on the history of Valentino (who he had dressed, who he learned from, and so forth) and more on the the showing of final collection, the retrospective, and surrounding events. It didn't, however, focus as much on the actual making of the garments as I would have liked--although there was one dress they followed from conception ("I was thinking about this dress this morning") to its eventual walk down the runway-- and I wondered if someone who wasn't familiar with the history and ins and outs of the couture process would have understood how this was different than a high end ready to wear line. Related to this, but slightly tangential, it bothered me that during the course of the film a young woman who was obviously the houses fit model was never introduced the way other personalities were (muse, majordomo, CEO of the company). It struck me as odd since many people might not know what a fit model is, and disrespectful since she spent most of her time on screen in a state of undress or half dress.
Overall, however, the film was a sweet love story and an interesting comment on the state of the fashion industry. Hopefully it will inspire more people to appreciate the difference between haute couture and juicy couture...