It’s the spectacle of the year. A night where music, art, theater and film, come together to celebrate fashion, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, of course, donate to charity. The Met Ball is as exclusive as it is notorious; a ticket inside is nearly impossible unless you’re Beyoncé OR have an in with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Us normal folk are meant to ogle on the outside, hoping one day we might be able to step foot into the decadent halls of the Met and party side by side with the likes of George Clooney, Lady GaGa, and Karl Lagerfeld.
Alas, this dream is probably far fetched but acclaimed director Andrew Rossi, best known for Page One: Inside the New York Times, makes this feat slightly more realistic in his documentary, The First Monday in May. Following the preparation for the 2015 Met Ball, China Through the Looking Glass, Rossi shadows head curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton, as he struggles to put together an exhibit that will top his Alexander McQueen show, Savage Beauty.
Source: The Dolls Factory
Those expecting to see a film chronicling Anna Wintour or Vogue are in for a shock as this film makes little use of the notorious editrix and her magazine empire. Making sparse appearances, both these fashion giants are a simple footnote in the overall arch of the documentary. Rossi intends to make a star out of Bolton and succeeds as he follows the curator through the perils of putting on large-scale installations, combating Chinese art historians, and meeting the looming deadline.
Source: Tribeca Film
Although the film highlights Bolton’s anxiety and constant state of self-doubt, it also makes note of his deep love for fashion. Taking us down memory lane, we get to know the esteemed curator as a child from Lancashire, attempting and succeeding at developing and articulating his love for couture and all things designer. As we see Bolton finally come face-to-face with vintage Dior and Jean Paul Gautier pieces, we can’t help but feel as though we are experiencing a come-full-circle moment. Bolton’s encounters with the vast closets of the Parisian showrooms he visits, leaves us not only awestruck but also touched. This trip to France sets us in a trance of dazzling appliqué and brocade UNTIL the rug is pulled from underneath us and we are hastily brought back to the chaos of putting on the event for which the movie is centered.
May attempts to make every hiccup, an extreme moment, almost as if putting Mao in the same room as Buddha or Rihanna’s paycheck is a do-or-die ordeal. At each and every turn, Bolton is met with an onslaught of questions pertaining to Orientalism, the use of Chinese deities and fashion as fine art. It’s a painstaking process of making sure that all people involved are pleased while simultaneously upholding the romanticized view of fashion and the exhibition.
Rossi excels at making audiences feel thrust into the Met Ball preparations while concurrently letting us step into the shoes of Bolton. AND as a nice pay off for all those will-it-or-won’t-it happen moments, the director gives us a look inside Anna Wintour’s apartment, a close-up of the infamous seating chart, and a killer performance by Rihanna to top it all off. The First Monday in May is advertised as a documentary about the Met Ball, yet it’s central narrative is about a man whose love for fashion pushes him to take on obstacles that most would never dare to try. This is a must see!
Yours In Style,
Lauren Cecchi New York Team
post in : Alice Ross