Met Gala documentary questions fashion as art

marcoBy Marco Cadena


The idea of whether fashion should be viewed as an art form is contemplated through the new documentary, “The First Monday in May.”

Directed by Andrew Rossi (“Page One: Inside The New York Times”), the documentary takes viewers through the creation of the 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual gala, the Met Ball.

“The First Monday in May” gives an inside look and exclusive access to the ball, one of the most important fashion events of the year. The film follows Andrew Bolton, head curator of the Met’s Costume Institute, and American Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour in their quest to pull off a successful event through a span of eight months of preparation.

The 2015 gala follows the theme, “China: Through The Looking Glass.” It allowed for a Chinese art exhibition to be showcased and insight in the country’s fashion history. To correlate with the theme, work from filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, various Chinese movie stars and young Chinese fashion designers were included.

From the pieces being exhibited at the gala, to the structures and sculptures accompanying the fashion, to the colors of the flower arrangements, and the guest list, the film gives a step-by-step to each selection. The team’s attention to detail creates a balance between chaos and perfectionism, while the sophisticated treatment of the displayed garments gives fashion the identity of a historical treasure.

During the planning of the event, Wintour and Bolton faced backlash for the lack of a modern take of Chinese fashion, and also found themselves in a race against time as things complicated with just days prior to the event.

“The First Monday in May” featured appearances from Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Cher all wearing Chinese theme garments from renowned fashion designers such as Jeremy Scott, Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs and Donatella Versace.

Other cameos include Beyoncé, actress Anne Hathaway, and 2015 Met Gala performer Rihanna, whose yellow ensemble took two years to make.

Throughout the film, fashion icons such as Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano and Vogue Editor-at-Large André Leon Talley also dive into the historical significance of fashion, and the debate about its relationship to art.

The documentary has a refined musical score and beautiful cinematography that work hand-in-hand with the gasp-worthy fashion included in the exhibition.

The sense of diversity present during Bolton’s trips to Europe and press releases in Asia, give fashion a universal take with the aftermath of the ball, which defines the exhibition as something to be enjoyed by everyone.

With a limited release to under 50 cities in the United States, “The First Monday in May” gives a never-before-seen look at the creation of the Met Gala.

With Chinese art and fashion inspiration guiding the event, and tough-to-please executives and directors making every decision, the film breaks through the barrier of the old and the modern world of high fashion. However, it fails at giving an exact answer to the debate of fashion as a form of art, leaving it to the audience to decide for themselves.


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