Behind the Seams | The First Monday in May Affirms Fashion's Legitimacy as an Art Form

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The First Monday in May offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass and its opening night soiree, the Met Gala.

The film was named after the date of the “Super Bowl of fashion” and is directed by Andrew Rossi. Eight-months of considerable access to the productions are offered through the experiences of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, In the Mood for Love director Wong Kar-wai, and the Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton.

Wintour spearheads the Met Gala, the Institute’s opening night soiree and fundraiser that raises millions by attracting luminaries of fashion, film, music, and politics. Under Wintour’s scrupulous eye, the strategic guest list and red carpet expertly juxtapositions the spectacle of modern celebrity and the classical, refinement of the Met.

A few noteworthy moments of the film highlight this unique convergence…

  • Justin Bieber sings in the gallery alongside Balmain creative director, Olivier Rousteing
  • Rihanna sings "B-tch Better Have my Money" among early 19th century Tiffany columns

Wong Kar-wai serves as the show’s artistic director and offers thoughtful presentation solutions that expertly explore traditional Chinese fashion as well as the dialogue between West and East clothing and iconography. The exhibition features customary Chinese clothing as well as Asian-influenced works by Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and John Galliano.

Though the film is a tribute the Met, the true star is Bolton. Bolton’s curiosity, charm, and intellect carry the film which concludes with the viewer being guided through the galleries closely trailing Bolton’s tuxedo tails on opening night. His pant is a touch too short, a quirky detail that is as intent as Bolton’s eye as he meanders through the gallery appraising the completed collection that is China: Through the Looking Glass.

The First Monday in May flirts with the notion but ultimately affirms fashion's legitimacy as an art form.