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I love beauty — it's not my fault," the perpetually orange, shellacked septuagenarian Valentino sniffs to reporters backstage at his spring prêt-à-porter show in February 2007. Filming the last year of the designer's reign — Valentino retired in September 2007 after 45 years in haute couture — dedicated follower of fashion Matt Tyrnauer crafts the slick, superficial portrait that you might expect from a Vanity Fair special correspondent. Structured to make us boo the evil corporations that took over the House of Valentino while fetishistically documenting the details of the designer's three-day swan-song extravaganza in Rome, Valentino is an orgy of châteaux, villas, yachts, majordomos, and Joan Collinses set to a Nino Rota score. Then again, perhaps the director really believes that nothing succeeds like excess. Compared with recent docs on two other design legends, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, Tyrnauer's extols Valentino's extreme lavishness as a kind of honorable, defiant stance (sneaking away to Gstaad as investment bankers take over his company) but demurs from searching for its subject's gravitas. Instead, the film goes for cutesy laughs, frequently cutting to Valentino's six pugs, on board their master's private jet, having their teeth brushed, peeing during a photo shoot, or being adorned with diamond earrings.
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