Valentino :: The Last Emperor Review
As the number of fashion documentaries gets more inclusive, it was about time Valentino was followed. This Saturday, I went over to the Embarcadero Center Cinema to fill my fashion void. Embarcadero and Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley are the only two to feature this movie in the Bay Area.
I went to the cinema early to listen to director Matt Tyrnauer answer questions the audience had. He described the growing frustration of Valentino as cameras constantly followed him. Valentino admitted at the Rome release of the film that although he wished some characteristics were not portrayed to the public, they were necessary for the audience to gain a real sense of the way he works. Frustration was a natural part of his development of couture.
Even after 45 years of creating art, Valentino does not listen to the demands of the market. Though many designers begin to shy away from lavish haute couture and transition into ready-to-wear, Valentino still believes that clothes should be beautiful. His definition of beauty stems from his childhood obsession with the silver screen, and it doesn’t involve quick fashion. Many scenes are revolved around a dozen seamstresses (who don’t use a sewing machine throughout the whole process and learn their techniques from their mothers) delicately sewing on rhinestones by hand. It really makes you appreciate the way a garment is constructed from start to finish while involving a several hours of craftsmanship.
But Valentino’s refusal to expand into the money-making sectors of fashion – perfume, accessories, makeup – unfortunately created a shift of ownership. Though his strongest business partners remained with him until his retirement, the company has been under management of several powerhouses. The reality of fashion, that the industry is not all beauty and lust, is prevalent throughout the documentary. Like any other industry, money is what runs fashion and art does not prevail.
Visit Shattuck Cinema to learn about the unbelievable life of a legend. There are some things that can’t be written into words, and the way Valentino interprets art is something every fashion lover must experience.