Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a statement with her dress Monday evening at New York’s Met Gala that went beyond fashion.
The progressive Democrat showed up at the ritzy event wearing a white gown reading “Tax the Rich” across the back. The message was no surprise — the New York congresswoman is one of the most outspoken in Washington on the issue of income inequality and taxing the wealthy — but the setting was, as the Met Gala is a gathering of some of the most influential and wealthy celebrities, as well as members of New York’s high society.
This year’s Met Gala — the first since 2019, since the pandemic caused its cancellation last year — featured such notables as pop star Rihanna, tennis star Naomi Osaka and gala overseer Anna Wintour of Vogue. Tickets reportedly ran around $30,000 each.
It was Ocasio-Cortez’s first time attending the Met Gala, and she said presenting such a blunt message to such a rich crowd was the point.
“We really started having a conversation about what it means to be a working class woman of color at the Met … we can’t just play along, but we need to break the fourth wall, and challenge some of the institutions,” she told Vogue in a red-carpet interview. “And while the Met is known for its spectacle, we should have a conversation about it.”
In a separate interview, Aurora James, founder and creative director of fashion house Brother Vellies — which made the dress — and founder of the 15 Percent Pledge, told Vogue: “We must always continue to push ourselves, push our colleagues, push the culture and push the country forward. Fashion is changing, America is changing. And as far as this theme goes, I think Alexandria and I are a great embodiment of the language fashion needs to consider adding to the general lexicon as we work towards a more sustainable, inclusive, and empowered future.”
The gala — technically called the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala — is an annual party and fundraising event for the museum’s annual fashion exhibit, and has become one of the fashion world’s biggest nights.
It’s unlikely Ocasio-Cortez paid much out of pocket for her big night — celebrities and lawmakers are often invited, and their dresses donated by designers, in exchange for the publicity they receive.
AOC wasn’t the only New York lawmaker making a statement at the Met Gala. Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney wore a gown in bright suffragette colors reading “Equal Rights for Women,” and carried bright green clutch that read “ERA YES.”