Valentino: The Last Emperor

Director: Matt Tyrnauer
Year Released: 2008
Rating: 3.0

Fashion documentary about the end of Italian designer Valentino Garavani's 45-year career that manages to be both flattering and a bit of a swipe at the 'divo' - the title, 'the last emperor,' is kind of a loving slight. Tyrnauer makes several intriguing points about both his subject and the fashion industry itself: one, that Valentino, an 'old lion,' is able to play creative artist relatively 'untouched' and in his own little universe (worrying about frills on dresses and tiny details) because his partner Giancarlo Giammetti handles the difficult business aspects (all that ugly 'money' junk). Another key point is that the fashion industry is phasing out the Valentinos, who dote obsessively on the craft instead of, well, 'selling out' - Garavani's about the old style of haute couture - handmaking dresses - instead of 'branding' accessories that earn the company the real money. Valentino plays with his dogs, lives a ridiculously opulent lifestyle, frets over silly things and always gets his way - he lives to design and do absolutely nothing else, while others wait on him. "Après moi, le déluge" he remarks at his own 3-day retrospective, and he could very well correct ... and it shows he's more than aware of how rare (and fortunate) he really is.