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Ever wanted an invitation to one of New York’s premier cultural events? Well here’s your ticket in. In “The First Monday in May”, we’re invited behind the scenes as the heavyweights of the fashion world come together to create and curate two of New York’s greatest creative institutions: “China: Through the Looking Glass” the most attended fashion exhibition in the history of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the 2015 Met Gala, the star-studded fundraiser.
In “The First Monday in May”, the legendary Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine and Met Gala chair, and Andrew Bolton, the visionary curator who conceived the groundbreaking show, take us behind the curtain of the fashion industry. Together, they give us an intelligent and illuminating perspective on the fashion industry and give us unprecedented access into the fascinating mechanics that make it all tick. These huge scale events must also be set up at an incredibly fast pace: the whole exhibition needs to be set up in two days.
While it is a film about art, commerce, fashion and celebrity, it also touches on the ethics surrounding cultural appropriation. Bolton and Wintour pause to consider the pitfalls in an exhibition focused upon Chinese culture: the dangers of celebrating or reinforcing cultural appropriation and ethnic stereotyping. Their concerns are echoed by some of the Met staff, who fear that the show will simply use the museum’s collection of Asian art as a stage backdrop while obscuring the Chinese works of art.
In the context of one of the world’s greatest art museums, we’re walked through the perennial debate of whether fashion can ever be considered art. For designers like Karl Lagerfield and Jean Paul Gaultier, fashion design is applied art – it touches people, it moves them, and makes them think. ‘What more could you ask from art?’, Wintour says. And so for fashion aficionados, “The First Monday in May” convincingly affirms fashion’s legitimacy as an art form akin to that of other expressive mediums.
Written by Tara Janus