09 Mar Valentino: The Last Emperor
During watching this film last night, I longed to be born 70 years ago. To live through an era where clothing (among other products) were made by hand, made with precision, and built to last. The film is a brief glimpse into the life of Valentino and his partner Giancarlo Giammetti and their bittersweet decision to retire after the dramatic sale of their business to a private equity firm.
Valentino’s story was a classic rags to riches tale of a man who started with nothing and created a global following. I was in awe of the pure genious of his work, and the dedication of his staff to sew every dress created in his entire career by hand. Mentioned in the film is the fact that they purchased a sewing machine once, but never used it!
A retrospective celebration of his 45 years in the industry displayed hundreds of his creations, which still existed on racks decades later. A far cry from the mass produced clothing industry of today in which anything is accessible, and in turn just as disposable.
I was so saddened to see that even such a great creator and artisan was eventually taken advantage of by greedy business moguls eager to make their bottom dollar bigger. ‘The world is very different today’ Valentino reminisces, and hints at the fact that there is no place for people like him anymore. Such a magnificent tale, but one also of tragedy as it focuses on what is really important to people in the 21st century, which is wealth brought about by mass production and marketing.