The First Monday In May

Andrew Rossi’s documentary about the annual Met Gala – one of the most important events on the fashion calendar – also takes plenty of time to explore the ins-and-outs of so-called ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions, primarily focusing on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 show China: Through The Looking Glass, which highlighted objects in the museum’s collection and explored the impact of Chinese aesthetics on western fashion. Vogue Editor Anna Wintour features heavily: she is in charge of organising the Gala show while her magazine moves into new premises at One World Trade Center; permanently clutching a takeaway coffee and barking orders at numerous underlings, she hoovers-up attention in any room and seems to thrive off it. Her forthrightness contrasts well with the more reserved Englishman Andrew Bolton, currently Head Curator of the Met’s Costume Institute, though both are decision-makers tasked with appeasing numerous interested parties as their co-ordinated shows launch. I’m not big on fashion – my approach to clothes is that they exist in order to cover bits of my body, which is beneficial both for me and for many, many others – but I am interested in institutions and the way that they operate, so enjoyed this immensely. It’s not as exhaustive as a Frederick Wiseman documentary, but if you’ve only got an hour-and-a-half to spare it’s a lighter alternative with large doses of high fashion and celeb glitz, and thankfully the director shows some restraint despite clear admiration for those in the fashion industry and the museum. (***)