Fashion documentaries are fascinating for all the things they reveal, but also for all the things they confirm. Take The September Issue, a rare glimpse into the day-to-day life of Anna Wintour as she puts together Vogue‘s largest issue of the year. Yes, she’s brilliant, highly organized, slightly annoyed and always one step ahead of her mostly flustered staff (with the exception of the ethereal Grace Coddington, a woman who epitomizes giving no Fs) – Nuclear Wintour is all the things we expect the most powerful person in fashion to be.
The First Monday in May, an upcoming doc set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month, explores how Wintour executes the most exclusive, exciting and talked-about fashion event in the world—The Met Ball, a fundraising event for the museum’s Costume Institute—focusing on the 2015 party where the theme was China: Through the Looking Glass. The NY Post has a tantalizing preview of the film and we’ve plucked the juiciest bits we’re waiting on.
High School Cafeteria Seating Politics
Of course everyone wants to sit with Queen Bey, but with 600 guests, it’s inevitable that some tables will be better than others. Sylvana Durrett, the HBIC party planner, deftly navigates the seating arrangement and tries to evenly distribute the glamour. But still, the cruelty of the fame caste system peeks through—a table with Solange and Chloe Sevigny is sadly described as having “no celebs,” and Chloe is visibly dejected when she takes her seat. (Considering what happened at the 2014 Met Gala afterparty, sitting with Solange would be the best seat in the house and you know Jay and Bey will stop by to say hello. Or else.)
Anna Wintour vs. Cell Phones
Anna caused quite a frenzy when she was spotted with a—gasp!—flip phone. The in-demand EIC is too important to be available 24/7 and loathes a phablet at the dinner table. Gala guests are strongly discouraged from using cellphones and the Vogue staffers who work the event are told that if they are spotted using one, they will be escorted out of the building (and probably out of the job). At one point, Anna points to a blue sticky note on the guest list and says, “I thought he wasn’t coming?” and is then told that Mr. X changed his mind. Anna replies, “OK, can he not be on his cellphone the entire time then?” With the name obscured it’s impossible to tell who the Chatty Charles is, but doesn’t this sound a little Bieberish?
Anna Plays Matchmaker
Designer houses buy tables at about $25K a seat and face-time with retailers and buyers, not to mention the publicity procured from the red carpet, makes it money well spent. Anna takes a vested interested in cultivating actress/designer relationships (Vanessa Freidman of the NY Times reported that Wintour “often” selects what a guest will wear). This is also done to ensure even distribution of labels on the red carpet and to stop the scale from tipping too far in one design house’s favour. Who knew Anna was a sartorial socialist?
Dine and Dash
This guest list gives new meaning to the notion of picky eaters. Knowing that women are adorned in constricting and potentially priceless gowns, food is as carefully curated as the floral arrangements—no parsley (gets stuck in teeth), no garlic or onions (makes for uncomfortable close talk) and no bruschetta (it is too easy to spill). The caterers are so adept at working with a high-maintenance crowd that they anticipate every special request, like Stella McCartney’s vegan meal.
Like Grace Coddington said in The September Issue, Anna Wintour hates speaking about money on camera, but it looks like Rihanna’s performance fee is a major snag of the 2015 gala—rumour has it she demanded twice the allotted budget. Perhaps this was the inspiration for “Bitch Better Have My Money?”
It Takes a Well-Heeled Village
As unlikely as it seems, Anna herself will help move a table or tidy up the venue if need be because one thing is abundantly clear: when it comes to the Met Ball, it’s all hands on deck. Anna employs 10 full-time staffers dedicated to the Ball year round, as well as 100 on-site helpers. A few lucky ones actually get to attend the event as guests and are chosen for their conversational skills (and not just their dress size or society connections…we think).