I scare men. I don't just mean first thing in the morning when my curls look like Medusa's snakes, my eyes look like a boxer's after a fight and my breath can melt plastic. No, I mean all the time. Without fail. Apparently I'm intimidatingly smart (read: ball-bustingly annoying), frighteningly intuitive (a.k.a. judgmental), and fiercely independent (shamelessly selfish). It seems some men are intrigued by these qualities at first but rapidly come to realize I'm too much of a pain in the ass to put up with. Oh well, nuts to them.
Obviously they have no idea what it means to deal with a difficult character. Which is why I think all men should be made to watch Valentino The Last Emperor (valentinomovie.com). And ladies, it would behoove you to drag them to it kicking and screaming, if necessary. (I normally don't endorse that sort of conjugal behaviour. I have never, for example, taken a boyfriend shopping with me against his will, forcing him to join the legions of emasculated men who are made to seek out the sporadic chairs strewn about any given department store, handbag in tow and sit for hours as their ladyfriend tries on sixteen different pairs of jeans in sixteen different washes and sixteen different cuts, each time asking "do these make my ass look fat?") Because watching the legendary couturier and all around genius Valentino Garavani in action, chewing out his partner Giancarlo Giammetti and generally causing everyone around him quake in their bespoke boots is sure to make even the most dour woman seem like Little Miss Sunshine.
That said, however, it's magic to watch this man in action. Just like the old belief that it's acceptable for a girl to be bitchy as long as she's really pretty*, Valentino's diva is forgiven once those awe inspiring dresses come down the runway. (*It should be noted that I've only ever heard that belief espoused by my friends in Italy. So, you know, consider the source.) His genius with a ruffle, his eye for a paillette, his intuition with colour is, sadly, something that will die with him. Oh sure, we've all thought this before. Who could ever carry on the legacy of Coco Chanel? No one will ever hold a candle to Hubert de Givenchy. Christian Dior cannot be replaced! And yet those houses carry on, with new and groundbreaking talents at the helm. But couture is a dying art. Or at least the brand of classic couture that makes princesses out of chambermaids is. And if anyone can make a Jackie O out of a hot mess it is Valentino. As Matt Tyrnauer, the movie's director, said to a theatre of fashion lovers last night, Valentino learned his craft in the 1940s from Jean Desses who learned his craft in the 1920s. As this generation starts to take their last bows, a stitch of that authenticity, that art, that passion and that belief that beauty conquers all will unravel and so too will some of the magic.
And ladies, even if all the promises of foot rubs and fellatio can't get you to drag your man to this flick, go alone. Like I said, nuts to them. The Emperor calls the shots.