For those who do not know, and there might be many of you because I don’t mention this often, but I love, LOVE, fashion documentaries! I’ve seen The September Issue more than five times, and I’ve tried to watch as many as I have been able to get my hands on. And when I finally got the chance to see The First Monday in May, I was thrilled, and I’m still thrilled, because this documentary is another very interesting look into the world of fashion industry.
The first, and the biggest topic The First Monday in May discusses is the topic of art. Most importantly, is fashion art? For some it is, mostly for people in the fashion industry themselves, but for many it’s not, and I was surprised to hear a very known fashion designer proclaim that fashion was not art. I guess it’s the question of how we precive art, and how narrow our definition of it is. For me, avant garde is definitely art, and fashion that is inspired by the idea of pushing boundaries, should definitely be viewed as art. And something that is handmade should be considered as art as well because that also fits into the idea I happen to have of art.
And The First Monday in May definitely tries to deliver that same message, focusing on the China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition during 2015 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Its curator Andrew Bolton is the focus of the documentary, and his passion for it is something that comes across quite easily. He talks about the struggles of getting across the message of fashion being art, and discussing the success of Savage Beauty, the exhibition of Alexander McQueen he himself put together for 2011.
The documentary goes through the entire process of putting together this exhibition, the design of the rooms, the pieces they choose, and even briefly explaining its importance. And while Bolton is involved with the exhibition itself, we also get to see Anna Wintour organizing the Met Gala, the event that opens the exhibition and invites a lot of celebrities. There is a wonderful part where Wintour asks her assistant to ask one specific guest to not be on the phone the whole time and it’s definitely frustrating that we don’t get to see who she refers to (my guess is Justin Bieber)! Though I guess Wintour got her wish, because social media was actually not allowed during this event at all.
Finally I want to discuss one specific moment that I’m still thinking about. It’s the moment in the image above, where Bolton puts his final touches to the show that’s about to open, and arranges the dress. He takes his time, he looks at it, and he ruffles it, then looks at it again, and goes back to adjust it. That’s the kind of dedication we usually don’t get to see. We might see the painting, we might see the sculpture, but we are often unaware how the artist was putting it all together. Seeing Andrew Bolton create this exhibition, and seeing him looking for that visual perfection, for me, proved that fashion is a form of art, and whether you are a designer or a museum curator, you should always be able to enjoy fashion as such.
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