The new documentary, “The First Monday in May” goes behind the scenes into the most glamorous, star studded event that occurs once a year in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on, you guessed it, the first Monday in May. Most people are aware of the fashion extravaganza that fills social media and entertainment tv every year, but few understand the tremendous amount of work that goes into producing a gala and exhibit that rakes in several million dollars annually that goes directly to the MET. Early on in the film Michelle Obama inducts the 2014 ribbon cutting ceremony which renamed the MET’s Costume Center to the Ana Wintour Costume Center, while proclaiming that to date, the center and Wintour have helped raise over 125 million dollars to America’s premiere museum institute.
Just like the successful documentary, “Dior and I”, “The First Monday in May” takes a slice of life year in the making approach and follows co-chair Anna Wintour and Costume Institute curator, Andrew Bolton as they prepare for one of the largest and politically charged exhibits “China: Through The Looking Glass”. Alongside this huge fete which takes audiences to Paris to interview designers and obtain rare and precious collections from Galliano and Yves San Laurent, there is also a political side to this particular exhibit that involves perceived Chinese culture, representation and ultimately the fashion that the country has inspired in Western culture throughout the years. To help bridge the fashion and exhibit, the team brings in famed Chinese filmmaker, Wong Kar-Wai who layers in iconic Chinese film throughout the years that will accompany the exhibit.
What makes the film so engaging is the back and forth approach that filmmaker, Andrew Rossi takes going from the planning of this monumental exhibit, to the equally grand MET gala that kicks off the exhibit with equally politically charged agendas. Wintour is involved in every aspect of this process carrying her signature Starbuck’s coffee cup, donning those black sunglasses and emitting little to no emotion. She ends every meeting with, “Are we done here?”. Even when her daughter is being fitted for the gala at Wintour’s house she offers no opinion, but manages to emit an aloof grin while looking up and down at her daughter in the dress. Meanwhile, Andre Leon Tally is over praising the look which appears to be a tactic to mask Wintour’s lack of emotion. Regardless how you feel about Wintour, the film shows a determined business mogul at work, leaping through a multitude of daily tasks addressing Chinese media, working with Rhianna and her performance, deciding on A-list seat assignments and even, picking table linen and decor for the event.
Rossi manages to bring to the surface contemporary topics of women in power, Chinese and American relations, art and commerce, celebrity, and ultimately whether fashion is art. All of these topics are explored and dissected in real time making “The First Monday in May” a socially relevant film for our time. Audiences will also revel in the drama and enjoy a firsthand closeup of all the stars as they walk the entrance to the MET gala.
“The First Monday in May” is currently playing in select cities. For tickets visit: http://www.firstmondayinmay.com/showtimes Watch the trailer below: