Did you ever wonder what it would be like to wake up to the lemon yellow light of Rome, Italy? Perhaps take a spin in a 140 foot yacht across the Mediterranean? To frolic across your Parisian Chateau’s extensive green, stopping only to sniff your best friend, or maybe give him a playful nip on the ear? Ok, ok, maybe not that last part – but if you were one of iconic designer Valentino’s six pugs, this would be just another regular day.
The Italian powerhouse has owned pugs since the early 1970s. One of the first, Josephine, was named after Josephine Baker by none other than Andy Warhol. An important pug, Olivier, was the namesake of an entire line of Valentino clothing in the 1980s – he even posed for advertisements for the line in a custom pug tux. Today the designer owns a family of faun pugs: Aunt Maggie, Mother Molly and four youngsters, Maude, Milton, Monty and Margot. In addition, Valentino owns a rescued sheep dog and an inherited toy poodle, who watch over the home base in Rome while the rest of the pack travels in style.
This year the pugs will have their Hollywood debut, playing supporting roles in the new feature documentary, Valentino the Last Emperor, released this spring. The film captures not only the culmination of Valentino’s last collection to be shown in Rome, celebrating his 45th anniversary in the business; it also documents the special relationship he has with his dogs. The canine family jet sets internationally with the designer, and are present for the entire design process, from sketches to fittings to the final show.
Matt Tyrnauer, the director of the film and avid pug lover was happy to include the furry entourage, saying, “They were on camera a lot, because they go almost everywhere with Valentino. When we were cutting together the 170 hours of footage we shaped into a 96-minute film, the pugs rarely ended up on the cutting room floor, because, next to Valentino, they were the most brilliant comedians we had working for us on set.”
One thing is certain, Valentino’s lucky dogs are a pampered, essential part of his design family, and share a nearly inseparable bond with their owner. Of his pugs, Valentino says, “[T]hey do nothing but bring me pleasure and happiness. A loyal family of dogs is true happiness. My greatest extravagance in life is caring for eight dogs and traveling with six of them.”
By Max Goodman, email@example.com
Photo credit: Photogrpahs courtesy of Acolyte Films