Monday, May 2, 2016

First Monday in May (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The First Monday in May

It's fashion season! "The First Monday in May" by director Andrew Rossi (Page One) takes us inside the living dream of curator Andrew Bolton and his vision in creating a fashion show specifically about China's influence on Western art. Bolton is taken on by the Met to helm the yearly gala. But, can he do it? The heavy chain mail wraith of Steve McQueen's exhibition, Savage Beauty, still hangs over his eye.

Nevertheless Bolton accepts. Anna Wintour is hired as a co-designer along with the hallucinatory film director Wong Kar-wai. At first, decisions are in disarray. What do they do with the main hall, which colors belong to which room? How does one approach Chinese/ American Pop culture without treading upon the shaky ground of racism and stereotypes? Luckily, Bolton who bears a striking similarity to David Bowie, is a peacemaker between parties and he has a discreet diplomatic knack in facing these issues head on.

Though we are put behind closed doors, Rossi does not bog the audience down in the politics of the administration. The director keeps things moving and we are given nothing less than a kaleidoscopic feast. Throughout, the militaristic and birdlike creations of McQueen hang over all--- a luxuriant ebony cloud. Bolton doesn't know how to proceed. His McQueen memory becomes a vulture, yet he carries on. Come what may in May.

Anna Wintour, uncomprimising and adamant is juxtaposed with Chinese American actress Anna Mae Wong as a Dragon Lady. Movie stars, musicians, directors and designers stalk the red carpet like animals from an endangered species. Sarah Jessica Parker transforms into an Asian flame diva. Jennifer Lopez resembles an amber panther dusted in gold. And Rihanna gives everyone present a case of atoxic shock as she incubates into a fuzzy golden caterpillar with seeming effortlessness, enshrined as she is in a fur dress with an abundant train, stretching to envy.

Justin Bieber provides the comic relief in the film. When arriving, he is clothed as a Punk version of a Michael Jackson militiaman. He doesn't gaze at the art. Instead he half yodels an R&B party tune.

Kim Kardashian appears too, as if in an instant by supernatural means. Her body is an unholy bend of lurid curves, equipped with a bottom shaped like a sorceress' cauldron.

Everyone has to stop by Wintour's scarlet robed-centurion who takes a cue from Alice in Wonderland in his mushrooming, aubergine attire. George Clooney doesn't stop and is called to the carpet. The celebrities gab and flare like Chinese lanterns, oblivious to the decadence within.

Bolton lives to delegate another day having faced the zen koan of how to incorporate The Buddha with Chairman Mao.

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