written by Jean-Marc M’Bahia
If you like fashion and art, The First Monday in May is a film for you.
Andrew Rossi’s documentary follows the creation of The Metropolitan Museum of Arts’s fashion exhibition, an exploration of Chinese-inspired western fashions by Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton. The film is punctuated with interviews from Jean-Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Karl Lagarfeld, Wong Kar-Wai, Baz Luhrmann and Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour.
“The Met Gala is the superball of fashion events,” and this movie has been smartly built to please fashionistas with abundant behind-the-scenes footage. The film’s main purpose is to offer an inside look into the creation of the Met Gala with unprecedented access. Keep in mind that this is one of the most famous nights of the year in New York City. You have to be somebody to attend this kind of party.
In fact, the movie opens with a montage of celebrities attending this event, exposing their best look to the flashes of photographers as the models would do in a fashion show. The line between art event and fashion show is very blurry, but as Andrew Bolton says in the documentary, “When you’re confronted with genius, it speaks to everybody.”
The First Monday in May. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
We then dive into the subject: the preparation and the creation of the exhibition. The “mise en scène,” the lighting, the music, and the venue make it an in situ art work. From initial ideas to the exhibition day, The First Monday in May lets us witness the amount of work required and provided for such an event.
Anna Wintour – the real life inspiration for “The Devil Wears Prada” – and Andrew Bolton, a fashion guru from Britain, are at the centre of attention. The theme of this event is China: Through the Looking Glass, and the success of the night is the result of these highly creative and inspired people and their team.
“Should fashion be viewed as an art?” is the underlying question. As the film chronicles the development of the Met Gala, the director Andrew Rossi dares to ask the question in his 91 minute documentary, putting the debate back into the spotlight. With stunning visuals, the film offers a new appreciation of the fashion world. It seems slightly superficial at times, but that’s fashion, after all!