Geoffrey Macnab, “Why Fashion On Screen Lacks Style,” The Independent
In the past, films specifically about fashion have been underwhelming. They have been visually appealing, but lack the characterization that makes watching a film worthwhile. According to Geoffrey Macnab, “Matt Tyrnauer's documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor has one quality that most fashion movies lack, namely emotional depth.” Many times, with fashion films, superficiality and exclusivity is so present that the movie becomes more of a parody. This can be seen in The Devil Wears Prada in which Merril Streep plays the role of a fictional Anna Wintour.
Even films about fashion that have received acclaim such as The September Issue lack true insight into the world of fashion. Grace Coddington takes center stage with her wit and humor, while Wintour, the Editor in Chief, “is a sphinx-like presence who betrays little sense of what is driving her.” Macnab concludes by explaining that the fashion industry has an abundance of talent and that that talent can translate into the film industry (as shown by Tom Ford in A Single Man). The issue at hand is that fashion cannot be taken at face value when used as a source of inspiration, but should be explored and challenged.
Bruzzi discusses the conflict between costume design and couture. In her discussion she explains the role of a costume designer -- which is to create looks that work cohesively with the character as well as the overall narrative of the film. A couterier, on the other hand, is more likely to create pieces that are more spectacular-- looks that take on a life of their own apart from the character who is wearing them. This can be seen with regard to the givenchy ball gown worn by audrey hepburn in sabrina. The audience becomes captivated by the beauty of the dress itself.
Bruzzi suggests that there is an independent alternative when it comes to costume design. The costumes need not be a distraction nor silent, they can be admired as their own entity.
Cathy Horyn interviewd Matt Tyrnauer, the director of Valentino: The Last Emperor for The New York Times Magazine. When asked questions about the film, it becomes apparent that not only is the Valentino couture dynasty a central focus, but also the relationship Valentino has with his partner, Giancarlo Giametti. The couple bicker and hug, it humanizes Valentino- his public image is only one part of him. Tyrnauer touches on the fact that the world of couture has changed with Valentino having stepped down – he was the last of his kind in the way he ran his business. The film seems to capture him in two different lights – viewers will get to see the image of Valentino they are familiar with (the glamour) but also, audiences will be surprised to see a more humble Valentino. A man with a sense of nostalgia, a man who is well aware of how far he has come and what he has created for himself.
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