More is more in Andrew Rossi’s The First Monday in May. Half of the documentary is about the preparations for the star-studded 2015 Met Ball, the other half is about the accompanying Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit “China: Through the Looking Glass.” The exhibit displayed a collection of “Orientalist” dresses, from Alexander McQueen’s ceramic dress of plates and cups to Jean-Paul Gaultier’s gowns inspired by Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love. While the Met’s Andrew Bolton, the default hero of the movie (unless you prefer Anna Wintour), concerns himself with a creating an exhibit that is neither kitschy nor comparable to his greatly successful Alexander McQueen exhibit “Savage Beauty,” The First Monday in May poses a more basic question: Is Fashion Art? Anna Wintour says yes, Karl Lagerfeld demurs. Otherwise, there’s some handwringing over the seating arrangements and over the gargantuan cost of Rihanna’s performance. Andrew Bolton and Wong Kar-wai disagree about whether it’s alright to put an image of Mao in a room of Buddha sculptures, to suggest the leader’s deification. There’s an interesting point about China’s ad hocery when it comes to its culture after the Cultural Revolution. Baz Luhrmann offers some humorous commentary. Some clever editing suggests that Anna Wintour is a dragon lady. And a there’s a charmingly awkward shot of well-to-dos bopping to “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Yes, Rihanna, they do have your money.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White