Jeff Bezos, Doja Cat and Pamela Anderson Pregame the Met Gala

On Sunday evening, the rapper Doja Cat swept into an upscale French restaurant in SoHo carrying a disposable Starbucks cup. She stashed it at the bar, and then made her way to the rear of the room to kiss the actress Pamela Anderson on one makeup-free cheek.

Ms. Anderson was hosting a party with the label Monse as a kind of amuse-bouche for the Met Gala the next night. About 100 designers, editors and models gathered at La Mercerie, the restaurant and home goods store, to greet one another with some version of the line: “I have such a busy day tomorrow.”

Ms. Anderson planned to wake at 5 a.m. — a feat she said would not require an alarm clock — and then head to a park for a moment of peace before her first Met Gala. “I’m going to be walking all of those scary feelings out,” she said.

Under the ceiling’s central arch, servers circulated trays of buttered radishes. Guests sipping Sancerre traded thoughts on increasingly elaborate gala prep routines. (Fillers came up, as did Ozempic.)

Doja Cat said she would be sticking to “regular old beauty prep,” with the help of the makeup artist Pat McGrath.

Evan Ross Katz, the pop culture writer, was chatting with his husband when he noticed a commotion. “All of a sudden I look to my left, and Jeff and Lauren were there,” he said, referring to the billionaire Jeff Bezos and his fiancée, Lauren Sanchez.

Ms. Sanchez, wearing an ultra-sheer, corseted mini dress, held hands with Mr. Bezos, in a tight V-neck sweater. They picked up drinks and then maneuvered past the D.J. booth to greet Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, the founders of Monse and the creative directors of Oscar de la Renta.

The two designers said they were eager to see how the gala’s attendees interpreted its dress code, “The Garden of Time,” named for a 1962 short story by J.G. Ballard. Among the story’s themes: toppled aristocrats, environmental ruin.

Close to 8 p.m., guests stepped outside into a drizzle and called cars uptown. Many were headed to NoMad, where United Talent Agency was hosting its own pre-Met Gala soiree at Nubeluz, José Andrés’s cocktail bar on the 50th floor of the Ritz-Carlton.

Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows offering misty views of the Hudson River, bartenders doled out Scotch whisky over a glowing onyx bar. Slices of ham were topped with caviar and gold leaf.

The room was crowded with more than 200 guests, including the designer Christopher John Rogers, the actor Jodie Turner-Smith and the model Karlie Kloss. Ms. Kloss leaned against a pink love seat, deep in conversation with the actress Cynthia Erivo, who had completed her final fitting and nail appointments for the gala earlier that day.

To Ms. Erivo, the dress code suggested “life and decay, growth and birth.” She added: “I think it’s a really beautiful idea.”

The singer Lizzo emerged from the elevator bank and used one hand, sheathed in a leather evening glove, to dab powder on her cheeks. The rapper Awkwafina greeted her enthusiastically. Across the room, the former basketball player Dwyane Wade and his wife, the actress Gabrielle Union, chatted with the CNN anchor Abby Phillip.

Mr. Wade, wearing a Prada collared jacket, said that parts of the Met Gala were not quite as glamorous as they looked from the outside. “It’s chaotic,” he said, but “when you get to the carpet, that moment is worth it.”

The hardest part of the event? “Getting over yourself,” Ms. Union said. “And not letting your insecurities get in the way of the beauty and the art.”

The U.T.A. cohort, led by Jeremy Zimmer, the talent agency’s chief executive, mingled with clients including the actor Jamie Dornan. Dan Constable, an agent at U.T.A., said he had spent the day in fittings with Mr. Dornan, and with the actors Greta Lee and Taylor Russell. “I honestly got teary-eyed,” he said.

Close to 10 p.m., guests were still posing for photos on peachy velvet couches. Along the wall, there was a row of alcoves with seating, but few retreated into them: The idea, really, was to be seen.

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