“The Super Bowl of the world of fashion!” That’s how former editor of Vogue magazine André Leon Talley described the first Monday of every May for the fashion world (…And speaking as someone who knows nothing about the fashion world, you can tell that the moment you look at me, I clung to that metaphor like a drowning man to a raft).
Five years after he investigated the inner workings of the newspaper industry, Andrew Rossi now turns his attention to putting the work of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and their annual gala under a microscope with the fascinating documentary: The First Monday in May.
Rossi’s film opens with a montage of celebrities, models and people that are generally far more rich and attractive than you or I can ever hope to be tripping the light fantastic at the gala in all manner of glamorous clothes. Before the film rewinds and we see how exactly this night comes together step by step thanks to the curator Andrew Bolton who feels like the gala is “do or die” for him constantly under increasing mounting pressure to outdo the show put on by Alexander McQueen one of fashion’s foremost creative minds “It’s the show I measure everything else against”.
Besides Bolton, the figure to receive the most screen time is Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, strict adviser of Bolton and master of putting together gala’s like these. She’s portrayed as much the opposite of Bolton in every way. While Bolton is charming, talented and has a likeable quality to him. Wintour is clearly the one with power and control, having gained the reputation as a coldhearted workaholic who you don’t cross she’s almost always seen clad in a pair of sunglasses and a no-nonsense expression. However, the documentary tries to dig dipper into her persona and the impression of her and actually examines if she’s worth her reputation.
Beyond that? There’re very few actual interesting moments this documentary has to offer. The more the movie goes on the more you get the impression that this is less a documentary and more like a 90 minute ad for the museum of art. Rarely focusing on the dark parts of the industry, it pulls a lot of punches when it comes to interviews as a result. For example, the controversial designer John Galliano is portrayed as someone that the entire fashion world should aspire to. Never once mentioning the “I love Hitler” interview he did in 2011 which he’s most known for.
Propaganda piece or not, it’s certainly an education into the insides of the fashion industry for the novices out there.
The First Monday in May is on general release now