April showers bring more than just May flowers. May is one of the most highly anticipated and long awaited months on Museum Row in the culturally adept New York City.
Each year, a fashion exhibition encompasses the universal theme of fashion starting the first week of May, and seen at the magnificent Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has become so influential to the fashion world and the overall population of New York City that Tribeca Film Festival invited guests to view a film documentary, ‘The First Monday In May’ on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. The film has also just been released in select theaters today, Friday, April 15, 2016.
‘The First Monday In May’ is quite an extraordinary display of talent and an intriguing work of art. The documentary takes us beyond the illusion and the glamour of what we surround ourselves with on the outside, and instead, choose to take us deeper into the planning and preparation of all that went into one of the most successful exhibitions in the history of the Met Costume Institute, the first time since the tribute to the late Alexander McQueen with ‘Savage Beauty’ in 2011. The exhibition that is examined in this film is ‘China Through The Looking Glass’ and the accompanying MET Gala that goes hand in hand with the theme. ‘China Through The Looking Glass’ surpassed all expectations, bridging the divide between East and West in a universal language of beauty, style and sophistication and unveiling just how much influence the Chinese culture has had on the fashion world over the ages. Close to 761,000 visitors admired the exquisite display in 2015 and gazed with admiration into the Chinese fashion heritage. Just as important as the work that goes into making history in fashion is the modern day Cinderella Ball, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala. The gala event is loaded with celebrities, entertainers, models and powerful political figures. It isn’t just about the many flashes of the paparazzi cameras or the dazzling gowns, dripping with sophistication, that portray the theme of the year. No, this is a grueling process taken care of by an army of individuals making sure that the final product is just right because this is ‘THE’ philanthropy event of the year.
The stars of the film are truly Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue and artistic director of Conde’Nast and Andrew Bolton, Head Curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. The documentary takes us up close and on the personal journey to perfection with Anna and Andrew and their staff. There are difficult and challenging decisions to be made in respect to the most prestigious event of the year along with putting together an exhibition that incorporates everything that fashion stands for in the past, present and future. There are a number of candid shots throughout the film and Director Andrew Rossi films the tradition beautifully with class and charisma. The film was released by Magnolia Pictures. It goes without saying that music & fashion have been a beautiful marriage for centuries and the music was one of the most perfectly matched scores, making the movie even more impactful. The musical team to credit for this score are Ian & Sofia Hultquist. Ian is a former member of PASSION PIT and Sofia’s company DRUM & LACE scores music exclusively for fashion including work for Tanya Taylor, Diane Von Furstenberg, A Moi, Lotuff and St. John to name a few. Ian and Sofia gave some insight into their world of fashion, music and art and proved what a great fit they were for this documentary.
1. How is it that you, Ian and Sofia, were chosen to write the musical score for ‘The First Monday In May?’ How great an honor was that? What were your first thoughts after you were notified that you were selected?
IAN: I was fortunate to have already had a previous working relationship with Andrew Rossi from his films Ivory Tower and Thought Crimes. He approached me at the Thought Crimes premiere (at last year’s Tribeca) and asked if I’d be interested in working together again. We had a few more conversations about it & he actually came up with the idea to have it be a co-score between Sofia & I. He’d known about Sofia’s Fashion-specific style of writing, and thought it would be a great fit. I loved the idea!
SOFIA : As a fashion lover, it was definitely a really amazing experience and an absolute honor to be involved!
2. What went into aligning the music with the film to make them work so well together? How long did it take you to develop this score?
IAN: We spent a good 2-3 months just laying the foundation for this one. It was a tricky process as we were writing while they were editing, and the exact narrative of the film didn’t necessarily come into focus until a few months in.
SOFIA : Overall, I think we worked on this in some capacity for about 5 months- this included the first few months that Ian mentioned and then a couple in which we really delved into the writing process. Getting to start working with the footage early on made the whole process feel very collaborative which in turn really helped make the visual and the music align even better.
3. Do you feel that fashion has influenced music or music has influenced fashion or have both influenced each other equally and why?
SOFIA : They’ve definitely influenced each other greatly, but it’d be hard to say which influenced the other the most. For this project, all of the fashion that was displayed during “China: Through The Looking Glass” and ultimately in the documentary was so inspiring musically! As someone that composes primarily for fashion and film, I am a firm believer that fashion and music intersect in more ways than one. One of the most obvious examples of music and fashion influencing each other in popular culture is Punk and Vivienne Westwood, in which it is is very much a “what came first” situation. Punk fashion created a whole new style that would not have been possible without the music. But then again, would punk have been as influential had the fashion not existed?
4. What city in the entire world do you consider as the most inspirational for you as a team to complete your life’s dreams and passions for music, art and fashion and why?
SOFIA : This one’s a hard one! Personally, the most inspiring places that I’ve had a chance to experience are Reykjavik/Iceland, Paris, and Los Angeles and each for a very different reason. But I think Los Angeles is definitely the most practical and liveable place for what I/we do, and it’s been a wonderful two years here so far!
IAN: Agreed. I feel like the past two years that we’ve been living in LA have been the most creatively fulfilling years of my life! We both are very lucky to be in a position we wake up every day and just write music.
Any and all fashion lovers just have to make this film a part of their ‘must see’ list to gain a greater appreciation of fashion, the MET Gala and the annual exhibition tradition. This year, the theme is “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” As we glide into a fully technological age, fashion is moving at the speed of light as well. The exhibition will look at handmade haute couture and machine made fashion, displaying over 100 pieces of fashion. It will be on display from May 5, 2016 through August 14, 2016 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute. The famous MET Gala will take place at the MET on May 2nd hosted by cochairs Idris Elba, Jonathan Ive, Taylor Swift, and Anna Wintour. Nicolas Ghesquière, Karl Lagerfeld, and Miuccia Prada will serve as honorary chairs, and the gala and accompanying exhibition will be sponsored by Apple.