What It’s Like at New York’s Brand-Spanking-New Mall

A model at an installation in Hudson Yards. Photo: Clint Spaulding/Getty Images for Related

To a certain kind of teenager, the mall represents endless possibility. To an adult, it mostly represents crowds. At last night’s opening of the “vertical shopping experience” at Hudson Yards — a massive, upscale, marble-decorated space filled with stores like Cartier, New York’s only Neiman Marcus, and multiple David Chang restaurants — I could see both sides.

Much has been said about Hudson Yards, the biggest and most expensive real-estate project in America. The Dubai comparisons are apt: It’s so new and clean you hardly know you’re in New York at all. Most of us will never live in the live/work/shop space — but for better or for worse, many New Yorkers will someday shop there.

And the huge, crowded opening actually felt more like a preview of a Sunday in June than it felt like a party. There were celebrities — Anne Hathaway, Billy Porter, Vera Wang, and Zac Posen all attended — but the space was so cavernous you could easily walk past one without knowing, or never run into them at all. I saw a crowd with phones drawn forming around something — maybe an influencer? Dylan Sprouse? No. It was two small dogs dressed up in rhinestone-covered outfits. Even better.

What distinguished the event as a party was, of course, the free cocktails. Waiters on each floor passed around Champagne while half of New York — it seemed — went from store to restaurant to store to restaurant. Plates of arancini and fish tacos were quickly snatched up by hungry attendees. A bakery giving out free macaroons had a line 20 people deep. But be warned: there are only bathrooms on three of the five floors, and the women’s, at least, are only seven stalls each. If you indulge, do it on the second, third, or fourth floor.

Which is sad, because the first and fifth floors are the most fabulous. The fifth is home to New York newcomer Forty Five Ten, an import from Dallas (where Mall People reign). It’s separated into six vignettes, each dedicated to different types of shopping. There’s a vintage area where you can browse Chanel jackets and old Vogues, and an trend-driven area called Forty Five TenoverSix for Batsheva dresses and Tom Dixon carafes. The vignettes make it feel more like you’re boutique-hopping in Soho, which is probably exactly what you come to Hudson Yards to avoid. Watching a woman try on and ultimately buy a Marc Jacobs hot-pink top was oddly satisfying, like retail ASMR. It was the kind of interaction this institution was made for.

Swarms of People Came Out to Celebrate New York’s New Mall