I know that fashionistas tend to be a bit shallow, but is that really all he saw in that movie? The glamorous folk don't come off very well in that tough-minded film (and neither does much else about the modern world.) Watching it tonight, I was again struck by how prescient Fellini's vision was. The failings of the world of celebrity and glamour which he exposed in La Dolce Vita have since spread so far as to become the dominant mode of contemporary culture. I suppose that this means that, as a cautionary warning, the movie was a failure. Presumably, a lot of people now see it the same way Isaac Mizrahi sees it-- as a depiction of some sort of ideal world of luxury and glamour, rather than as a depiction (among other things) of the sad emptiness of pointless self-indulgence.
I don't think of it as Fellini's failure, though. His intent is clear enough for anyone who knows how to pay attention. The problem is that too few people do pay attention. Maybe a movie needs more corpses before they'll take notice of it. La Dolce Vita has only four, not counting the big fish at the end. But it remains one of my favorite movies, whether a wide audience gets it or not.