Sneak peek at fashion’s Super Bowl


“Fashion – it’s a kind of theatre.” You betcha, Anna Wintour. Which is why the trailer for the new behind-the-scenes Vogue film, The First Monday in May, is tantalisingly good.

The documentary, which will open the Tribeca film festival in New York in April, follows the team at Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as they prepare for the launch party of last year’s exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass.

The Met Ball, as it’s known, is the “Super Bowl of social fashion events” and the cash, the gossip and the general over-the-topness make for compelling viewing.

The trailer raises more questions than it answers. Here are four.

Have we been pronouncing “Rihanna” in a really unfashionable way for ages?

Because everyone at US Vogue says “Ree-Yanna”. It’s a little disconcerting. Alas, in the trailer no one discusses how to describe the singer’s omelette dress.

What sort of Chinese restaurants does Wintour frequent?

In one scene, the editor-in-chief says: “It’s going to look like a Chinese restaurant.” Her tone suggests that’s a criticism.

We’d be sceptical that Wintour knows anything about any eatery that doesn’t sell blooded steak if it weren’t for the facts that: (a) cult label Vetements showed their catwalk collection in a Chinese restaurant recently; (b) she was spotted eating fish and chips in the Refinery, a cocktail bar-cum-restaurant under an office block during London Fashion Week; and (c) she’s seen shifting the tables herself, which could hint at a pre-fashion life as a waitress?

Was curator Andrew Bolton the only one who considered that the exhibition theme could be interpreted as racist?

If so, why didn’t he mention it to Sarah Jessica Parker before she wore that questionable (was it appropriation or appreciation?) headpiece?

Either way, the British curator is clearly one of fashion’s biggest brains. He is filmed striding the Met’s famous staircase in a tux and mankles, as the voice-over says: “I’m not afraid of controversy” and “This isn’t Disneyland”.

Presumably, it was Bolton who put the kibosh on the exhibition’s original title, Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film and Fashion.

What exactly is the size of Rihanna’s budget?

The camera lingers on the subject bar of an email to Wintour, which says: “Do you have a second to talk about Rihanna’s budget?”

Oh yes, we have literally hours. Tickets famously cost $25 000 a pop, a couture dress costs up to $70 000, hair and makeup isn’t cheap – you would need a really, really big limo to get that dress in.

Assistants are on pretty much minimum wage, but Rihanna would need at least seven. Thank goodness she seems content to swig beer from a plastic cup. – © Guardian News & Media 2016

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

From rags to riches — if we support local clothing manufacturers

Reviving our industry to its former glory is possible. We have the infrastructure, talent, and a population that is eager to work. Now we just need consumer buy-in.

Extract from ‘Born to Kwaito’: How we choose to fashion ourselves

How we choose to dress is an instrument to communicate personal, race, class, gender and identity politics, as discussed in this extract from ‘Born to Kwaito’

The Portfolio: Lebogang Tlhako

Photographer Lebogang Tlhako uses collage to explore making up something that isn’t there

The Cameroonian rhythm that set the world on fire

How Manu Dibango’s hit became the most sampled African song in history

How the clothing industry is adapting now that runways are out of fashion

The fashion business is going digital to attract consumers in the absence of being able to physically parade its wares

Artclub and Friends: “Every purchase is a vote”

Founder Robyn Keyser chats to us about how she and her utilitarian fashion brand are surviving the lockdown

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Journey through anxious Joburg

A new book has collected writing about the condition of living, yes, with a high crime rate, but also other, more pervasive existential urban stresses particular to the Global South

Football legend Maradona dies

The Argentinian icon died at his home on Wednesday, two weeks after having surgery on a blood clot in his brain

Covid vaccines: Hope balanced with caution

As Covid vaccines near the manufacturing stage, a look at two polio vaccines provides valuable historical insights

Under cover of Covid, Uganda targets LGBTQ+ shelter

Pandemic rules were used to justify a violent raid on a homeless shelter in Uganda, but a group of victims is pursuing a criminal case against the perpetrators

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…