The Roaring 20’s. A period marked by unprecedented affluence, countless soirees, flapper dresses, jazz melodies, and …
It’s one of the most buzzed about nights of the year for the Hollywood obsessed, outside of The Oscars and The GRAMMY’s. It’s where everyone who’s anyone is in attendance, and the glamour of the red carpet is trekked by the elite of the A-list circle.
The Met Gala: a high-profile celebrity fundraiser that receives international notoriety, but most importantly one that celebrates the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new exhibit every May. In the exploratory documentary, The First Monday in May, viewers are invited behind the scenes to peek into planning details for the highly anticipated exhibit and gala, as well as answers to one of fashion’s most burning question: What is Anna Wintour really like?
But before we press forward into the unique being that is Anna Wintour, a short glimpse into the film is warranted.
The First Monday in May, directed by Andrew Rossi, follows the development and creation of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 fashion exhibition: “China: Through The Looking Glass.”
Distinctly curated by Andrew Bolton, the film unveils the dramatic highs and lows experienced by Bolton as he masterfully designs the “multi-media extravaganza”, which ultimately featured more than 140 jaw-dropping haute couture and ready-to-wear fashions delicately set before Chinese paintings, porcelains, fine art, and film — to envelope the depiction of the Eastern and Western world influences in the realm of fashion.
Throughout the film, the pressure builds as Bolton courageously attempts to surpass the record-breaking success of the 2011 Met exhibition: “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.”
As if tuned to the turmoil of a broken record, Bolton is reminded year after year by the press, media, fans and alike, that subsequent exhibitions have failed to compare to that of McQueen’s. Entering the 2015 Met season, Bolton is determined to set a new post-McQueen standard — with the help of the iconic Wintour at the helm of the Met Gala, and in her role as the museum’s trustee and Costume Institute Benefit Co-Chair.
The First Monday in May charts the emotional tug of war as depicted by Bolton and his museum counterparts, and the essential role that Wintour plays in securing fundraising through the iconic gala, in order to provide funding for The Met for the year. Attracting the likes of A-listers such as Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Lady Gaga, and R&B princess Rihanna, the film excellently showcases Wintour’s strengths in blending art with fashion with pop culture, to achieve financial success for the museum.
Rossi (pictured left) as director notes, “As Harold Koda explains in the movie, Anna has figured out that the marriage of celebrity and haute couture is greater than the sum of its parts. When you see Rihanna in a couture gown on the red carpet, it’s transcendent, just a visual feast that people who love fashion and media find really satisfying as a visual spectacle and as a glimpse of celebrity culture on steroids.”
Former Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley even notes, “Since Anna has taken over the Met Ball, it has become the Super Bowl of…fashion events.” And that it is ladies and gents.
But even as glamorized as the nail biting preparation and the juicy details of who-sits-by-who for the gala, the more interesting perspective lies within the glimpse at the real Anna Wintour — who or what lies behind the myth that the media portrays her to be.
Initially, Rossi depicts the prototypical Wintour that we’ve all grown to love complete with her legendary sunnies and Starbucks-sipping antics. But as the film goes on, emotional ties form, as the legendary editor allows the cameras into her home, her personal space, and miniature portions of her life.
An overall excellent dissection and discussion of fashion as art, The First Monday in May hails as our must-see fashion documentary of 2016. Ranking amongst our 2015 faves of Dior and I, and Iris, The First Monday in May is more than just entertainment, it’s an educational roller coaster and deep dive into the intersection of celebrity, art, fashion, and society and their roles in modern day culture.