The First Monday in May review

The First Monday in May review

Your spring dose of fashion porn is here, so polish up your Prada pumps and get thee to your nearest cinema - The First Monday in May has landed!

If you're anything like me, early in May each year, you will be glued to your device as the red carpet rolls out for the annual Met Gala in New York. Even the Oscar's red carpet pales in comparison to the Met Gala, as Hollywood really does embrace the haute-in-haute couture, where it's all or nothing, and sometimes either will do (I'm talking to you Madonna).

It's a guest list to die for: Kim, Kanye, Kendall, Rihanna, Taylor, Beyonce, SJP, J-Lo, J-Law. And the belle of the Met Ball calling the shots at this "Super Bowl of fashion" is of course Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour.

We saw how Wintour rolls in The September Issue, and while she's not as centre stage here, this is still her show. She has the power to make or break. Her Met Gala is not just the carpet to conquer and the hottest ticket in town; it's the biggest fundraiser on the Metropolitan Museum of Art's calendar.

This gargantuan evening of glamour will raise millions of dollars for their coffers. It also launches the newest exhibition for the museum's Costume Institute, an exhibition with the power to attract enormous numbers of visitors to the gallery.

This new film takes us behind the scenes of their most ambitious exhibit yet - China: Through the Looking Glass.

Documentary-maker Andrew Rossi (who did the excellent Page One: Inside the New York Times) starts his cameras rolling eight months out and with impressive access. The creative process, the artist endeavour, the all-pervasive stress the closer the deadline looms - Rossi captures it all as the scope and the scale of creating an exhibition of this size from scratch is revealed, all against the backdrop of the biggest party of the season.

As if he doesn't have enough to think about, the cameras follow exhibition curator Andrew Bolton's every move and he grounds this story perfectly. The quietly spoken Brit is that winning formula of gentle self-deprecation offset against his clear and obvious talent. We want him to succeed from the moment we meet him.

Working alongside acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, they share their creative vision and set about making it come alive. It's an enriching and inspiring insight.

Alongside Wintour and Bolton, the film is augmented with some alarmingly engaging interviews with the likes of John Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Karl Lagerfeld.

When the big night finally arrives, the cameras plunge us gratifyingly amid the fashion fray, including access inside the ballroom itself, as the A-list glitterati party like it's prom night (if everyone at prom night wore Chanel, Valentino and Dior).

At a tidy 90 minutes, this film never outstays its welcome. Yes, you will get your fashion fix with a healthy dose of celebrity, but there is much substance amid the style here and surprisingly so. In fact, it's quite a nail-biter, so book your post-screening manicure now.

Four stars.

     The First Monday in May:: Director: Andrew Rossi :: Starring: Andrew Bolton, John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, Baz Luhrmann, Rihanna, Anna Wintour, Kar-Wai Wong :: Rating: M - Offensive language:: Running Time: 91 minutes:: Release Date: September 29, 2016

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