FOR almost half a century, Valentino Garavani defined the term fashion designer.
One of Italy’s richest and most famous exports, Valentino created his legend through amazing tailoring, his signature “Valentino Red” dresses and being able to dictate fashion to the public as the dresser to many of the world’s most beautiful and famous.
Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Julia Roberts are just some of the women who have gained significant attention for wearing a Valentino creation.
Valentino: The Last Emperor is a feature-length documentary which, amazingly enough, captures the then 75-year-old in his final year at the head of the company he founded in Rome more than 45 years ago.
While the other recent fashion fly-on-the-wall documentary, The September Issue, seemed to have had limited and selected access to its subject, this film, produced and directed by Matt Tyrnauer – a special correspondent for Vanity Fair – appears to have been allowed to observe much more.
Fascinatingly, Tyrnauer captures Valentino in his element doing what he does best, effortlessly designing classic and beautiful clothing.
It is inspiring to see such a legend still have so much passion and creative energy in regards to everything that he does.
But Valentino has not survived the fickle timeline of fashion by himself.
This film shows the extraordinary bond he and his business partner and companion of 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti, share.
The two of them squabble and make up only like passionate Italians can.
In a way, the wealth that has afforded them to live like royalty has amusingly taken away quite a sense of reality from this over-the-top, ageing pair, who seriously need to monitor fake tan use.
It is both hilarious and moving to watch them put together a mammoth three-day retrospective of Valentino’s work, which was ultimately to include his final couture collection.
This all culminates in an elaborate finale at the Colosseum in Rome, which demonstrates just how highly regarded Valentino is.
With appearances at this event by fashion’s elite designers – Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Donatella Versace and Tom Ford – it only begins to demonstrate just how influential Valentino is, and was.
Valentino: The Last Emperor (PG)
Directed by: Matt Tyrnauer
Starring: Valentino, Giancarlo Giammetti
Rating: Four stars (96 mins)
Screening: September 17