It’s 7:08 p.m. and there’s already train traffic at the Mark Hotel. Two attendants fan Gigi Hadid’s black Givenchy outfit with several feet of trailing lace as she stands patiently behind Alton Mason. He’s dressed as a Karl Lagerfeld bride in a lace unitard (a nod to the white couture gowns that famously closed the designer’s Chanel shows) and his veil, too, needs space. “Everyone take a step back,” the security guards yell at everyone and anyone. Bad Bunny whips past them in custom Jacquemus, a glass of champagne in hand. Meanwhile, Mary J. Blige walks by the elevator, her glam squad blushing her blonde ponytail as she goes.
For just over two hours, they’re all sharing perhaps the most famous lobby in the world.
Every first Monday in May, the annual Met Gala is held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Known as “fashion’s biggest night,” it attracts designers, actors, models, and athletes in the highest—and often the most over-the-top—outfits anywhere. It follows, then, that most of them need a place to get into said outfits. The location of choice? The Mark, a five-star hotel four blocks away from the museum.
On May 1, more than 60 notable faces—ranging from Anne Hathaway to Cardi B to Lizzo—booked rooms at The Mark ahead of the 2023 Met Gala. Between 5:15 and 7:30 p.m., each one exited through the lobby as the world’s paparazzi waited outside, eager to get the first glimpse of the outfits that would make tomorrow’s front pages.
The Mark, by the way, is used to this. They’ve hired a slew of security—the tallest enforcer is 7’ 3”—and the streets are closed to both vehicles and pedestrian traffic; only registered cars, people, photographers, and glam teams are allowed (and there are a lot of glam teams). Internally, they know precisely who is where—and, most importantly, what time they will be ready. They alternately hold and dispatch elevators to the stars’ respective floors when they want to head out.
Vittoria Ceretti is the first down, at 5:22 p.m., in black beaded Balenciaga and opera gloves. Three minutes later comes He Cong in Sacai. By 5:34—which heralds the arrival of Olivia Wilde, Vanessa Kirby, and Maude Apatow, all in Chloé—the celebrity tsunami has officially begun.
Irina Shayk struts out to her sprinter van in Yohji Yamamoto and a pair of flats from The Row. (“This is my first time wearing flats to a red carpet. I’m excited,” she says on her way out.) Ashley Graham poses for photographers in a pink and black gown by Harris Reed, who is soon by her side. He took inspiration from a 1987 Chanel haute couture show, featuring peplum hems and bustle-inspired lines, for his design for Graham: “It gives the camp, the va-va-voom that I am while also playing [homage] to Karl,” he says. “I’m getting lots of wow, wow, wow. . . the only thing I can’t do is pee,” jokes Graham.
At 6:57, Anne Hathaway, Donatella Versace, and Lily James have come down, inciting a swarm of people in the process. The lobby calms down just in time for Paris Hilton to exit the elevator: “Luvs ya!” she tells the photographers as they snap away. It’s started to lightly drizzle outside, but the moment an umbrella appears, the paparazzi boo. It ruins their shot.
Cardi B is the last big name to exit. She’s wearing a billowing pink taffeta creation by Miss Sohee that requires multiple people to help her out of the lift. The rapper is ready for the attention, however, jutting her elbows and pouting her lips the moment a lens pops into view. Her energy is undeniable.
Just like the rest of them, she waltzes out into the street to the explosion of flash bulbs. Finally, her sprinter van pulls up and she climbs inside; for blocks, people will scream her name.
By the time she arrives at the Met, however, the pink dress is gone. Instead, she walks up the carpet in a Chen Peng black and white dress with pearls. Cardi B just wanted to have her big Mark moment.