Thursday 24 Jul

TJ Mayes - "When Love Comes Down"

’50s era rock ’n’ roll had been long overdue for a rebirth. Thankfully, the stockpile of capable luminaries has not been in short supply over the past few years. 

07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Boare - "playdatshit"

The world is in the midst of an electronic music renaissance, and you find most of this boon of producers laying claim to the club-friendly, bass-dropping variety, holing up in the the free-flowing world of hip-hop beatmaking or pitching their tent on the out-there, boundary-pushing EDM camp.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broncho - "Class Historian"

Broncho has never been hurting in the hook department. The success of the trio’s 2011 debut, Can’t Get Past the Lips, was predicated mostly on its ability to marry melodies with kinetic guitar riffs and anarchic energy. Yet we’ve heard nothing to the degree of pure pop catchiness on display in “Class Historian,” the new single from Broncho’s upcoming sophomore album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0

Admirals - Amidst the Blue

Sometimes it helps to not be very good.

Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.

07/09/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Designer makes for a colorful...

Designer makes for a colorful subject in 'Valentino: The Last Emperor'

Doug Bentin July 30th, 2009

Welcome to the world of haute couture, where grown men argue passionately about whether an overpriced dress looks more beautiful with 20 strips of sequin-laden material or with 18. Valentino Cle...


Welcome to the world of haute couture, where grown men argue passionately about whether an overpriced dress looks more beautiful with 20 strips of sequin-laden material or with 18. Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, known to followers of fashion as just Valentino, opts for the lesser number, but becomes agitated when an associate prefers the greater. The designer becomes petulant and pouty at any suggestion.

Nothing has reminded me more of my working-class origins than watching the debut documentary by Matt Tyrnauer, "Valentino: The Last Emperor." With the Material Boy's recent retirement, the old days of fashion design ended. Everything's corporate now. Welcome to the 21st century.

The film follows Valentino through the process of creating a runway show. We aren't present at the creation of every new dress, just the one with the strips of sequins. Then, to honor his 45th year in the business, we watch as he and his partner, Giancarlo Giammetti, prepare a retrospective for Paris. Dozens of out-of-fashion fashions are draped around mannequins, which are then hung from the walls.

Celebrities like Elton John, Gwyneth Paltrow and even Michael Caine stroll along, ogling as if they were on a tour of the room in Bluebeard's castle with the bodies of his ex-wives. Perhaps the most honest is, of all people, Joan Collins. When asked by a reporter, "What's the difference between good style and trash?" she answers with a laugh, "I have no idea."

Valentino comes across as an interesting guy, within a very limited range. He doesn't seem to mind appearing on camera as childish and vain " "People have to be on their knees in front of me," he says at one point " but it's hard to tell if he is performing or playing it straight. When he's with his public, he stands and walks with his left hand in his pocket. It's very casual, in a carefully calculated way.

Much of the film will remind you of other things. The models on the runway are so flat-faced, you'll flashback to Robert Palmer music videos. Valentino in his prime looked remarkably like Frank Langella in his. The soundtrack is elevated by Nino Rota tunes " in fact, the whole thing is Fellini-esque.

I kept wondering WWBD " What Would Brüno Do? " but I guess that if thousands of people think high fashion design is significant, maybe it is. Valentino goes everywhere with a pack of pug dogs, and in one scene, he's fitting one with earrings, which I thought comes dangerously close to putting lipstick on a pig.

The 45th-anniversary celebration ended with models hoisted into the air and floating around, hit by red lights, in front of the Colosseum. Again, Fellini came to mind, and the statue of Jesus being airlifted over Rome in "La Dolce Vita." Except Fellini left an indelible image, and the swinging models are just pure kitsch.

The movie is never less than entertaining and is frequently informative, like a documentary about life in an alternative universe. Catch it Thursday through Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Ciao, baby. Bellissimo. "Doug Bentin

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