Tuesday, May 1, 2012

YSL Fashion Documentary Is Mad With Love

I’ve been hearing all kinds of buzz about a French documentary profiling the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. 

I had been hoping to publish this post yesterday – on Wednesday June 1 –the three year anniversary of Laurent’s passing, but National Running Day took precedence. Sorry Mr. YSL.

But, I am praying that I get a chance to see “L’Amour Fou,” (Mad Love) which is about Laurent and his longtime companion and business partner, Pierre Berge. The movie, which is directed by Pierre Thoretton, is only out in limited release. I have not actually viewed the film, but I have seen mixed reviews.

According to the L.A. Times, the documentary is narrated by Berge as he applauds Laurent on his accomplishments in the world of fashion, such as being a forefather for ready-to-wear fashion and his breaking the mold by using non-traditional looking models on the runway.  It also touches on YSL’s struggle with alcohol and depression throughout their 50 years together.

But wait…haven’t I seen this documentary before?  I think it was called “Valentino: The Last Emperor.”  The Italian version of creative genius boy meets wealthy business minded boy; they fall in love and create an empire.

One day, while home from work with the flu, I found out that I was able to download all these great fashion documentaries from Netflix On Demand. I had the opportunity to sneeze my way through an 8 hour fashion documentary frenzy.

What started the marathon was that I had been wanting to see the film about fashion legend Valentino Garavani for quite some time.  It was produced and directed by Matt Tyrnauer, who is associated with Vanity Fair Magazine, so the footage was unparalleled as far as getting an insider’s glimpse into the life of one of the last living fashion icons.

The film actually highlights Valentino’s life story, his celebrated calling and explores larger themes affecting the fashion business today.  The main thread of the film is the relationship between Valentino and his business partner and companion of 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti.

Do you see any similarities?

The next documentary I watched was “The September Issue.” The film – directed by R. J. Cutler – spotlights Anna Wintour – the infamous devil at Vogue – and her mission to create Vogue’s largest September issue in 2008. 

I was riveted by this documentation. The director and his crew filmed many snippets of celluloid which profiled the collaborations of Wintour’s staff as they created their behemoth volume yet.  It was with a voyeur's enthusiasm that I watched Wintour interact with her staff – most of which are never named and seem to quake in their Louboutin boots.

I have to say that I respect Wintour who scaled her way to the top of ivory fashion tower, but she seems so cold and robotic.  This documentary tries to give a little glimpse into her as a human being, but not one that I would want to meet in a dark alley.  To me, her élan is quite lacking.  Her decades old bob and safe sense of style – despite its being haute couture – makes me think of her as a big dowdy bully; especially throughout this film.

Vogue’s creative director, Grace Coddington, shines as the heroine of the film.  It is apparent that her talent and vision make the artistic value of the magazine shine.  However, it is more her chutzpah that is admirable.  When Wintour shoots down several of Coddington's ideas, she stands up to the Devil herself.  Although sometimes, it is just the eye rolling and muttering under her breath, which makes me want to root for Coddington.  I just love passive aggressive behavior.

This documentary is really only a snap shot of the magazine business, but it is a captivating watch for sure.

The last movie of my marathon was called, “Seamless.”  I was practically having an anxiety attack by the end of it.  The movie focuses on four New York fashion designers competing for the first annual Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and Vogue Magazine's Fashion Fund.  The winner was awarded a humongous monetary prize as well as a high profile honor, which guarantees making it big in the world of fashion.  This ain’t no Project Runway kids.

The four designers who made it to the finals were: Alexandre Plokhov of Cloak; Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler; and Doo Ri Chung of Doo.Ri.

Each designer is highly talented, ambitious and penniless which is why the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is so important.

Of course, as it is in the real world, none of this just comes easy.  There are many obstacles – both personal and professional – that these aspiring designers have to get up, over, under and around. 

Personally, this was my favorite documentary out of all three because it was so real and I found myself truly cheering for each and every designer.  It was inspiring to see the raw talent that these (at the time) unknown designers possessed; and now - a few years later - to see where they have landed. 

Who knows, we may be witnessing the creation of the next prodigy to replace Mr. Saint Laurent.  But I will have to watch  “L’Amour Fou,” to find out.  Even if there is only a little to love about the film.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I love this post. I didn't know about "Seamless". Now I have to buy it. I want to see "L'Amour Fou" also. There was a great documentary on the Sundance Channel about YSL last year. It was fascinating, gorgeous and heart breaking as it was after he had had a stroke and you could see the effort it took to just be up and about, much less designing a collection. His genius is astounding and awe inspiring.
    I have to go look up movie times.

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