You've seen the photos, but what's it really like inside that big tent covering the museum's storied steps?

By Lindsay Kimble
May 07, 2019 02:11 PM

The first Monday in May draws Hollywood’s biggest stars to New York City’s Upper East Side — and, this year, me.

On Monday night, I represented PEOPLE on the red carpet at the annual Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gawking over (and screaming at) countless stars as they walked the carpet for the benefit.

This year’s theme — “Camp: Notes on Fashion” — inspired celebrities to go all out and have more fun with their looks than in recent years (I covered the carpet in 2017 and 2018, as well).

So you’ve seen the photos, but what’s it really like inside that big tent covering the museum’s storied steps? Surreal.

I

started my Met Gala experience on Monday in the salon chair, getting my hair styled at Blo Blow Dry Bar. After my hair was ready to go, I returned home to primp — all on my lonesome, and without assistance from a full team like many of the night’s attendees.

For the evening, I selected a vibrant neon Jay Godfrey dress, rented through Rent the Runway. I paired the bright, floor-length gown with some rented turquoise earrings by Joanna Laura Constantine (again, thanks to Rent the Runway for making this gal feel worthy of a red carpet).

RELATED: Editors’ Picks: See Our Favorite ‘Camp’ Looks from the 2019 Met Gala

Lady Gaga
Hailey Baldwin

After getting dressed — in a short 35 minutes, which paled in comparison to some stars, like Regina King who told PEOPLE she prepped for four hours — I walked the five blocks from my apartment over to the Met. Fans had already begun gathering on the street opposite the Met entrance, several hours before the stars were even set to begin arriving. One security guard told me some people had begun waiting the night before.

The press remained corralled in the basement of the Met for about an hour, before we were escorted out to the pristine carpet — that’s when the fun begins. Of course, all the journalists can’t help but take their turn posing on the steps, which were outfitted this year in a beautiful pale pink, and flanked by rose covered floral walls.

About 45 minutes after we hit the tent, the show began — and by show, I mean Lady Gaga’s incredible four outfit changes. The press was in quiet awe and amusement as Gaga pranced up and down the steps. Oh, and Gaga had some clever lines to pair with her performance — when she was talking into her purse phone, she joked she was calling up hostess Anna Wintour.

What followed was a slow trickle of stars on the carpet, including other event co-chairs Serena Williams and Harry Styles. Eventually, the tent was inundated with famous faces, running into each other and exchanging pleasantries.

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I spotted Jennifer Lopez telling Dua Lipa she looked good, and Alexis Ohanian told PEOPLE he was acting as a “proud husband” while Williams commanded the carpet in her sneakers. I watched as Kris Jenner waited at the top of the Met steps for the rest of her famous brood, and giggled as the family eventually organized for a group photo. Tiffany Haddish even let me smell the chicken she packed in her purse (and though it wasn’t warm, it was homemade!).

Kim Kardashian West

Liam Hemsworth seemed awed by wife Miley Cyrus as he backed away to let her pose alone, and Naomi Campbell came equipped with her own personal fanner (her feathers had to look fluffed!).

At one point in the evening, the hallway entrance to the tent was just jam-packed with everyone from Kanye West to James Corden to Kristen Stewart, all patiently waiting in line for their shining moment.

After two and a half hours though, most had retreated inside for the festivities — leaving Nicki Minaj last to walk a feather-covered carpet alone in her dramatic train.

And then, the press were shuttled off as the stars reveled inside. Maybe someday I’ll get to peep inside the lavish gala, but even being on the outside looking in was a true treat.

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