4/5 – Anna Wintour is the true star of The First Monday In May, the eagerly anticipated documentary following the creation of the MET Costume Institute’s 2015 exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass.
In 2009, R.J.Cutler’s The September Issue quietly crept into the public’s consciousness in. No one could have foreseen the lasting and profound effect it would have on audiences, quickly becoming a cult favourite and making stars out of its subjects. The First Monday In May, directed by Andrew Rossi, has been widely regarded as a follow up and waited for in baited breath.
Following the conception, creation and opening of the Met’s 2015 Costume Institute exhibition, plus the famed Met Gala that goes alongside it, this movie is a whole other animal. Without a shadow of a doubt, Anna Wintour is the shining star of the show. I’m pleasantly surprised to say that the filmmakers did not try to sugarcoat the Vogue EIC – she dominates discussions, fearlessly becoming the boss of every room she walks into. Her takedowns are vicious and swift, though never unnecessary. It’s truly remarkable viewing and deliciously addictive to watch.
Andrew Bolton, curator of the exhibit and Head Curator of the Costume Institute, is the sweet-natured, slightly neurotic yin to Wintour’s yang, ever charming and clearly in love with his job. It’s Bolton and his partner, designer Thom Browne, who provide one of the film’s most touching moments, embracing after a clearly nervous Andrew opens the exhibit to the museum staff after months of hard work.
The film skims the surface of potential issues, though never delves too deep – the term ‘cultural appropriation’ isn’t mentioned once, for which I thank Andrew Rossi from the bottom of my heart. Cameo’s from every major celebrity are generally amusing aside from a particularly irritating Justin Bieber, which slightly takes the sheen off things.
Altogether it’s informative and entertaining. As expected, nothing radical, but essential viewing for anyone interested in fashion, costume, Vogue or even just a really well made documentary.
– Thomas Marrington
The First Monday In May is in select cinemas in the UK now