Friday, 29 August 2008

Venice: Valentino: The Last Emperor

“I know what women want,” says legendary Italian fashion designer Valentino at the start of Matt Tyrnauser’s terrifically entertaining fly on the wall documentary. And after 45 years at the top of his profession, designing dresses for everybody from Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn to Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow, who can argue with him. Following the flamboyant fashion icon and his long-time professional and personal partner Giancarlo Giammetti for more than a year as the jet-setting pair prepare Valentino’s spring/summer 2006 collection, micromanaging the creation of every hand stitched dress, holiday on their yacht, on the piste, then oversee a 45-year retrospective in Rome as investment bankers wait in the wings to take over his business empire, the film isn’t shy about showing the rough as well as the smooth. From cleaning their dogs’ teeth, to mixing with Hollywood and fashion elite, Valentino and Giammetti make a wonderfully touching double act, bitching and moaning like the two old lovers they are, partners who have spent just two months apart in 50 years. “Your belly is showing,” says Giancarlo at one point. “I don’t look fat,” snaps back Valentino who moans about the camera being too intrusive but then insists it follow him not anyone else. Affectionate, absorbing and, above all, huge fun.

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