Valentino: The Last Emperor is the portrait of a fashion designer as he reluctantly winds down his long storied career. Directed by first time director and Vanity Fair contributor Matt Tyrnauer, the film has incredible access on the man himself, and his longtime business partner and companion Giancarlo Giammetti.
This warts and all documentary gives a sense of what Valentino Garavani has contributed to haute couture for almost 50 years, with a lavish anniversary party and retrospective in Rome, which brought together gowns from collections dating back to 1962 and the hundreds of celebrities, editors and style mavens that have contributed to Valentino’s success.
In the run up to the show, audiences get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of seamstresses painstakingly trying to bring Valentino’s sketches to life, the rush of getting a collection out, models lurking about, and muses doing whatever it is that muses do. And of course, there are also Valentino’s five beloved pugs, Molly, Milton, Monty, Margot and Maude running about.
The stress and importance of the show weighs heavily on Valentino, who at the time refused to admit that retirement was in his future, although the party hinted loudly that this was his last fashion hurrah, as well as on Giancarlo, which often led to heated exchanges between the volatile pair. One notable heated argument concluded with the low blow from Giancarlo that Valentino was looking fat, presumably the worst thing one can say to someone in fashion.
While the main event of the documentary is gearing up for the glitzy party celebrating Valentino and his work, it is the interaction and love between Giancarlo and Valentino that becomes the focus. Tyrnauer continues the aim of hisVanity Fair article that led to the film’s creation by bringing Giancarlo up to level footing with Valentino and showing that he had as much to do with Valentino’s success as the designer himself. Their business relationship is long and successful, and is entangled with their romantic relationship.
Getting insight to both the relationships amidst all of the glitz and glamour makes the film one to watch, and is a great farewell to Valentino’s fashion career.