VOD film review: The First Monday in May
Victoria Curatolo | On 30, Sep 2016
Director: Andrew Rossi
Cast: Andrew Bolton, John Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier
“Josh Hartnett. What’s he done lately? Nothing.” Those are the harsh words uttered by Vogue Director of Special Projects Sylvana Durrett, words which epitomise the brutal and unforgiving world of the fashion and entertainment industry – especially when those two collide on the most prolific day of the year: the first Monday in May.
Anyone who’s anyone attends New York’s The Met Gala – or what fashion mogul and former Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley refers to as the “Superbowl of Fashion Events.” Guests from Donatella Versace to Beyoncé Knowles are photographed to death wearing the most exuberant dresses made by the world’s most renowned designers.
Andrew Rossi’s documentary chronicles the events surrounding nine-month build up to the 2015 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Fashion Exhibition and Costume Institute. Last year’s theme, China: Through the Looking Glass, celebrated China and the East’s influence on the Western world, featuring 150 garments from 40 different designers. (Previous themes include 2013’s Punk: Chaos to Couture and last year’s Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology.) However, the museum’s most popular event was 2011’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which saw more than 480,000 tickets sold and remained open for 24 hours a day – a first in the Met’s history.
The First Monday in May starts with a retelling of the untimely death of the British fashion designer, who committed suicide at the age of 40 in 2010. The news of his death sent shock waves around the world, hence the success of the Met’s exhibition. Head Curator Andrew Bolton explains his frustration and worries, following the success of McQueen’s Savage Beauty, as the subsequent Met Galas have failed to live up to its predecessor. Naturally, Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour attempts to change that this year , as Rossi and his team are given an all-access account of the preparation surrounding China: Through the Looking Glass.
It is safe to assume that not everyone takes a keen interest in fashion and it has often been criticised in the past for not being a truly authentic art form, an issue noted various times throughout the documentary. However, that doesn’t suggest that Rossi’s direction and skill – who scored critical acclaim with previous documentaries Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven (2007) and Page One: Inside the New York Times – doesn’t entice an audience in an almost suspense-like stance. As well as moguls of the fashion world, the documentary captures footage with some of cinema’s most notable filmmakers, include Wong Kar Wai and Baz Luhrmann, which merely adds to the notoriety that surrounds the Met Gala, and is yet another reason why Western society is so intrigued by it.
The First Monday in May is truly a fascinating documentary and one that makes you wonder why it is so. Despite focusing on an enquired subject matter, the film undoubtedly holds your attention from the get-go and continues to do so until the credits roll. Despite what some may think, fashion is a billion-dollar industry that continues to rule the world and Rossi’s latest projects helps you understand why – reminding you that fashion truly does have its own momentum.