above: a still from the Valentino film from valentinomovie.com
The Mr. and I went to Film Forum tonight to check out Valentino: The Last Emperor, a riveting documentary following designer Valentino Garavani and his business partner and companion of over 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti, during events leading up to the 45th anniversary of the house of Valentino and Garavani's ultimate exit from the business in 2008.
This is a must-see for those interested in fashion, as it gives the viewer delicious behind the scenes glimpses into the dying world of couture and commentary from luminaries in the fashion world, such as Andre Leon-Talley, Suzy Menkes, Cathy Horyn and Karl Lagerfeld. Above all else, the documentary is about the understated and implicit love of two men whose lives have become so intertwined that, as Giancarlo tells it during the film, they have literally only spent two months apart since the first time they met in Rome. You will laugh, you will cry and you will swoon. Go see it!
We were surprised to see filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer in attendance. I wasn't expecting that. Tyrnauer, who is a writer for Vanity Fair, told the audience before the film that it premiered in Venice to critical acclaim and that despite pessimism about the film industry, premiere screenings in New York were "sold out on a sunny day this week which made me happy indeed." Tyrnauer continued in his introduction that the film was about "fashion nominally but ended up being about a whole lot more than fashion."
This is the filmmaker's first full length documentary, and it was a wonderful, balanced glimpse into a rarified world of Valentino, which included footage from his glamorous homes in Paris and Gstaad and introduced the audience to his peripheral world, including the seamstresses who made his beautiful couture dresses possible and his glamorous pack of pug dogs, who get to fly private and seem to have a staff of their own.
above: Valentino and Giancarlo, courtesy of valentinomovie.com
above: a blurry cameraphone shot of the filmmaker, Tyrnauer, courtesy of the Mr. (I sadly left my camera at home tonight-- sorry!)
Some fun facts surfaced during the Q and A session after the film: both Valentino and Giancarlo were originally unhappy with the way the film turned out, but soon changed their tune after critics and friends attended the screening and gave Valentino a standing ovation; Tyrnauer said that he was especially enamored with the world of the seamstresses in the movie; and the 90 minute documentary is a finely edited result culled from over 200 hours of footage, with the original director's cut at around seven hours long.
If it is playing at a city near you, I would definitely recommend it! See the official website for more details.