Is haute couture fashion a work of art, or is it a consumer product? Andrew Rossi takes a terrifically entertaining look at that question in a documentary that suggests how thin the line is between those two aspects. The focus is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual spring fashion-themed exhibition—in this case, the 2015 China: Through the Looking Glass show—as curator Andrew Bolton works on the actual show and fashion industry icon Anna Wintour organizes the accompanying star-studded fundraiser. He finds fascinating material in both halves of the story, as Bolton wrestles with both the logistics and the politics of his potentially problematic theme, while Wintour tries to convince entertainment headliner Rihanna to pare down her entourage because it’s, you know, a charity. But just as Frederick Wiseman was able to do in National Gallery, Rossi emphasizes the nuts-and-bolts reality of bringing any kind of art to the public, with all the complications and compromises that process entails. Leave aside some distracting tangents focusing on the already over-profiled Wintour, and First Monday captures that certain amount of flash that invariably helps the medicine of Art go down.
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