Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Last Emperor

Watching Valentino, the Last Emperor. At the beginning it opens with fashion luvvies snuffling and sniffing at the end of his catwalk show. It made me snigger. Here we are in a world recession, untold miseries going on across the globe, and these drama queens are crying over dresses.

But in the end it's unexpectedly moving. Especially Valentino's relationship with his business partner of 50 years. You see them as good-looking young Italian hipsters, all cheekbones & sharp suits, taking fashion by storm in the 60s. And then as old men with unlikely bouffant hair, bickering like Eric and Ernie, like Stadtler and Waldorf, like the 5 year old kids in my class ("You've got a belly." "No, I don't have a belly. YOU have a belly...") They clearly drive each other mad. But Valentino dedicates his Legion of Honour medal to him.

And how amazing it is that he's stayed at the top of his game for all these years, a real artist. And now fashion is not about the individual, madcap genius creator any more. It's about faceless conglomerates, flogging perfumes and purses and sunglasses off the back of the catwalk shows. The dresses just window-dressing. Look at what happened with Lindsay Lohan and Ungaro. No more Chanel, no more Saint Laurent, no more McQueen. And when an interviewer asks Valentino, now in his 70s, if this will be his last collection, he's smiling and saying "we'll see" but the look in his eyes is bleak.

At the end they plan a celebration of his work in Rome. As he shows the film-makers through his archive, looking at these amazing creations, he says, almost to himself, "So much I have done..." It's enough to make you understand how people might snuffle and sniff over some dresses.


  1. Lots of details in the film I liked: the women who make his lace, the pampered pugs, his insecurity about face tan and the absolute confidence about where to place a decoration. Don't think I've seen a dress designed by him that wasn't beautiful and completely wearable. Oh to have one.

  2. I'm glad you saw it too. Me too - he's not 'edgy' or 'fierce' - it's just beautiful.