“THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY” Review

1st monday may poster

As May 1, 2016 approaches, inside the ivory tower of Vogue magazine’s offices, their fearless leader Anna Wintour is whipping her army of minions into shape. This army will soon invade the Metropolitan Museum on the tony upper fifth avenue of New York City. Inside the “Met” will be no different under the helm of Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton.

The Met Gala, is one of the biggest global fashion events chaired every year by Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour. The main goal is a charity fundraiser for the Metropolitan Costume Institute.  After seeing “First Monday in May” directed by  Andrew Rossi , one must give pause as to whether raising the most money for the fundraiser is really the main objective.

“First Monday in May” is the documentation of the creation of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most attended fashion exhibition in history, “China: Through The Looking Glass,(2015)” an exploration of Chinese-inspired Western fashions by Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton. Film director Rossi captures the collision of haute couture and celebrity at the Met Gala. Featured in the film : filmmaker Wong Kar Wai and fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano. Galliano is wearing his new softer, clean look or “costume” to re-image himself after his 2011 arrest for his anti-semitic Jewish tirade in a Paris bar. Not his first, his prior rant in public to a group of Italian women, he declared ” I love Hitler..People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be Fu’king gassed”

The film delves into the debate about whether fashion should be viewed as art.

As Ms.Wintour, proclaims “Fashion can create a dream or a fantasy”.  Was it a dream or a fantasy when she was interviewed  and was addressed  as the “Dragon in the room” or when more comments referring  to “The Devil Wears Prada ?”

Leading the way from “Fashion to Art” was designer Alexander McQueen. Dubbed by his peers as “genius” for his imaginative creations. He was awarded the title “British Designer of the Year” four times between the years 1996 and 2003. Mcqueen’s suicide in 2011  shocked the fashion world. He left a  legacy of 36 collections for his London label alone.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted a posthumous exhibition of McQueen’s work in 2011 titled “Savage Beauty”. Only open for three months, it was one of the most popular exhibitions in the museum’s history. It was so popular it became a traveling exhibition.

Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton and Chair Anna Wintour are determined to surpass McQueen’s “Savage Beauty” exhibition’s record and accolades.

Bring on the teams of advisors, technicians, party planners, artisians in every applicable

arena in order to pull off “THE Fashion Event” . This includes an extensive trip to China with an entourage in tow. Chinese cultural advisors and interpreters to express what China is like in the 21st century of fashion rather than the fashion culture of the past . The Western contingency only focused on the costumes from the Suzy Wong era. After all of the expense for this R&D trip,  Andrew Bolton required in order to curate the charity he remarked ” in the end it is up to what I want to have interpreted and displayed” I think he was discounting his traveling associate Ms. Anna “Dragon Lady ” Wintour’s input. Maybe it was his pretentious air that went to his head? It seems that in order to be part of Haute Couture Fashion one needs to speak with an affectation. I guess it elevates the distinction between  Pret a Porter, expensive ready to wear versus haute couture’s, one of a kind creations that is being elevated to “art” costing about the same. That must be why ready to wear designer Michael Kors sounds like a regular New Yorker.

Director Rossi takes us behind the scenes into many, many meetings .

What I did learn from the meetings we are privy to, was that the word du jour is “Genius” said by all with a variation on the pretentious affectation utterance of the word.

I would have enjoyed seeing the actual work done by the artisan workers which actually installed the finished show and what they had to do to achieve their art in lighting, placement, back drops and so much more . The end result is just gorgeous! A real work of art in the displaying of the fashion pieces that are unique. The showcasing of the collection and theme of ” China: Through the looking glass”  is after all what it is all about. Exhibitions like this ensures the importance of preserving The Metropolitan Costume Institute .

One of the highlights is watching how one in the pop celebrity world is chosen to get a coveted invitation,  that’s just part one. It is what table and with whom you will be seated with is part two. Part three is the location of said dinner table. Yes, there is quite the pecking order for the acclaimed fundraiser. If you are a “star get” ( star that is hard to get) you are rewarded in different ways. How many get to accompany you, plus one? two? three? or your posse? And yes there are the Stars that are Paid to come to the charity event. Rihanna was THE must have. Rihanna, is quite beautiful and is a “fashionista” granted. She rose to popularity in 2005 with a single “Pon De Replay” ( Lyrical hook (hey mista dj turn the music up) a dance song. I wonder about her rise to popular star status with her best known single “Umbrella” with that hook of poignant songwriting lyrics “brella, ella ella eh eh you can stand under, under my umbrella, brella ella eh eh” can this be what American culture has set as its bar of songwriting  excellence?  Is this what the mass’s consider, eloquent , even thought provoking or just plain good lyrics? a great hook? Adele are you listening ! ?

So, in the world of Haute Couture, Rihanna is the “IT Girl” and the Met Gala board were willing to pay her 4 times the amount of anyone to the tune of $400,000 including her posse in attendance. All she had to do was show up wearing  what was deemed to be the piece de resistance gown for this important fundraiser for the Metropolitan Costume Institute.

Garnering  the most press coverage, eating dinner and saying a couple of words to her adoring attendees. I think she should be paying the charity for this honor and publicity rather than the other way around. What do you think?

The night is finally here after nearly a year in planning. It was said by Anna Wintour “High Fashion is the most extraordinary expression, when this medium is paired with celebrity it becomes bigger than both of them”

Andre Leon Talley  fashion’s biggest in every way, fashion critic perched himself atop of the red carpeted  Met. Gala steps to talk to the privileged and gifted attendees of his choosing. He laments that George Clooney and Amal did not stop to talk to him!  But, is exulted that he got Kim Kardashian and Kanye West to chat it up with him.

The throngs of photographers , reporters and social media are pressed together in holding pens and other secure areas. All shooting at pretty much the same angle for relatively the same shot of the outrageously outfitted pop culture stars. The designers are escorted arm in arm with their favorite star in beautifully designed creations made just for them . It isn’t just the show’s exhibit of “China : Through the looking glass ” that is on display. Everyone and every object is on display on the First Monday in May. I think Larry David in his own imitable way summed it up best as he was almost trampled on his way up to the coveted red carpet Met Gala steps  “What the Fuck is this?”

Rated: 2 1/2 fashionable Honey  🐝🐝 1/2🐝

 

 

 

 

 

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