We recently had a chance to catch up with Matt Tyrnauer (above, with Valentino Garavani, Eva Herzigova, and Giancarlo Giammetti) director and producer of Valentino: The Last Emperor, which will be released all over the country in select theaters on March 18th (today!). Tyrnauer followed the legendary Valentino Garavani for two years, documenting not only his opulent lifestyle, but also his tumultuous relationship with his partner of 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti, and his last days as the head of the house of Valentino. Our exclusive interview and the trailer are after the jump!
Annie Scott: We've heard Valentino: The Last Emperor called "colorful and dramatic" by bloggers and others who've seen the film. What's dramatic about the film? Did a storyline develop?
Matt Tyrnauer: A number of storylines developed over the course of the two years of the film, especially with his partner of fifty years Giancarlo Giammetti. The drama between them is the core of the movie. It's really a relationship story, and a very universal story. Some have said it's a love story. Giancarlo and Valentino's relationship is, you know, often compared to a kind of marriage. And it really is an incredible friendship over half a century.
Also, in terms of storyline, Valentino was confronting the end of his career and unsure about what he would do. The fashion industry is really changing before our eyes, and Valentino wasn't sure whether he wanted to leave or not, but he knew things were changing, and that maybe the climate was not hospitable for him anymore. He comes from a place of pure passion, and his company was bought out for under him.
AS: Do you think he wanted to step down?
MT: I think he was ambivalent. He never really told anybody what really was going on. He never told me -- I was in close quarters with him for two years. I think one day he thought, "enough."
AS: Do you think anything good can come from him stepping down, or is it ultimately the end of an era?
MT: It's just reality. He was the last one of his kind, you know, the last working designer who didn't start in ready-to-wear.
AS: I know a lot of people have been asking what will happen to the house of Valentino, but having spent all that time with him, how do you think this will affect him personally, in his life?
MT: It's a big deal. He's someone who's done four runway collections a year for 50 years, so you can imagine if that goes away overnight and there's nothing to do, it's a big step. Obviously, he has houses in four or five countries, a big yacht, really, a life grander than anyone else's life, and he doesn't have to comply with Paris' show schedule anymore. I think he might start to enjoy himself, but with someone so creative and so passionate, to not have that outlet anymore must be extraordinarily difficult. Having said that, I don't see him going stir-crazy.
AS: What surprised you the most about Valentino and his life when you were making the film?
MT: I think nothing can prepare you for the opulence. You can talk about it and look at pictures all you want, but until you really see the setting, the houses, the private airplanes with the five dogs . It's really on a level that no one lives at anymore. He defines that . In Europe, they say, "No one lives better than Valentino." Specifically, Gianni Agnelli said, "I don't know how Valentino lives the way he does. No one I know lives that way. I don't live that way."
AS: In following Valentino for two years, what did you learn about fashion?
MT: I got to see the making of the collection -- everything's sewn by hand. These gowns, they cost more than many people make in a year. There are no sewing machines. I'm not a fashion person really, and making the film gave me an extraordinary appreciation for what it is. Hundreds of thousands of hours of hard work and craftsmanship goes into making these things which are art. It made me understand what haute couture is.