The First Monday In May
“Fashion can create a dream, a fantasy, but there may be some questions about whether fashion belongs in a museum like the Met.”- Anna Wintour
Each spring, the broad sidewalks and steep stairs of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are transformed for an evening, as the throngs of tourists and food carts disappear and, in their place, a glittering catwalk arises filled with some of the world’s most recognizable figures in fashion and entertainment. In elegant evening clothes ranging from the rigorously on- trend to the utterly fantastical, fashion insiders and glittering celebrities pack the red carpet for the annual Costume Institute Benefit, also known as the Met Gala. The most sought-after invitation in New York City, the Gala finds award-winning actors and supermodels sharing the spotlight with pop-music icons and political power brokers, all brought together by their host, Anna Wintour, for an evening unlike any other.
Given access to the formidable editor in her Vogue offices, at The Met and even at home, Rossi says he wanted to discover something new about a public figure who has been written about extensively and who is singularly adept at managing her image“I admit that when I went to meet her for the first time, all the stories and media coverage surrounding her gave me a slight sense of trepidation,” he says. “I wanted to unpack that in the film as well and create a verité portrait of her that to a degree, penetrates the Anna Wintour mythology.”
Like Rossi’s previous films The First Monday in May explores the mission of large institutions though the individuals who build and run them. He explains,“I’ve gone behind the scenes of organizations that seem impenetrable from the outside, because I want to try and understand what earns them such a vaunted role in our society,”
“I try to look at whether or not that privileged position is warranted through the aspirations but also the imperfections and vulnerability of someone who represents the organization. So, when I had the opportunity to go inside The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was excited to explore a relatively disruptive curatorial department, the Costume Institute, because I wanted to get at the question of why we have museums in the first place and how we decide what qualifies as the ‘art’ that’s entitled to be inside their hallowed walls.” “With the dual story line following preparation of the Met Gala, I hoped to take a critical look at the marriage of art and commerce, to understand how the work of Anna Wintour in raising funds for the CI is as crucial to its survival as the creative and preservational work of its curator in charge, Andrew Bolton.