Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has no qualms about letting people know how she feels about the wealthy in the U.S. and she literally wore that message when attending the Met Gala wearing a dress emblazoned with “Tax the Rich.” She was accompanied by Black designer Aurora James who is the founder and creative director of Brother Vellies, a sustainably focused luxury line influenced by traditional African design practices. While some people praised the Democratic Socialist congresswoman for the powerful message and raising awareness, others criticized her for attending an elite fashion event where tickets cost $30,000. The theme for the annual event was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”. “We really started having a conversation about what it means to be a working-class woman of color at the Met,” the Congresswoman told Ilana Glazer, host of Vogue’s livestream. “We can’t just play along … [I] wanted to enjoy the event but also break the fourth wall and challenge the industry.”
AOC was accompanied by James who told the fashion magazine that they want to continue to “push ourselves” and “never get too comfortable” after they’ve been given seats to the table. “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 Met Gala is an annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour is a chairwoman of the event and the guest list and has final say on who can attend. While individual Met Gala tickets cost $30,000, tables, typically bought by brands and fashion houses, reportedly start at $275,000. Dana Loesch, former National Rifle Association spokeswoman, was among the critics tweeting: “You went to a $30k per plate event only the ultra rich can afford with a message that is all ready reality as the top income bracket pays the majority of tax via IRS. You should write extra in *your* check to the Treasury instead of buying expensive top of the line EVs.” AOC seemingly anticipated the backlash to attending such a high profile fashion event, commenting on her attendance in an Instagram caption: “BEFORE anybody starts wilding out – NYC elected officials are regularly invited to and attend the Met due to our responsibilities in overseeing our city’s cultural institutions that serve the public. I was one of several in attendance.”
But it wasn’t just right-wingers who voiced their criticism, many took to social media to say she fell short with her message amid such an elitist event.
It’s So Hypocrite How She Shows Up to The Met Gala In Dress While Tickets Cost $30-$50K and The Table Goes For $300-500K and She Wearing This Dress Tax The Rich Really Girl Bye. 👋🏾🤦🏾♂️🤯 pic.twitter.com/RJbOq7S4cb
— Koree4Real ✊🏾📸🛩 (@superstarboss1) September 14, 2021
AOC also commented on the criticism in her Insta Stories saying her body has been policed since taking office and that women in power are also criticized for being “cautious.” Ultimately she decided that the awareness she would raise with the dress and the conversations sparked as result would be worth it. “But we all had a conversation about taxing the rich in front of the very people who lobby against it, and punctured the 4th wall of excess and spectacle.”
The money is used to support the Met’s Costume Institute. The gala raised $15 million in 2019, according to the New York Times, the 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic. With celebs and some of New York’s elite in attendance, there’s no denying she claimed space and made her message clear. She later tweeted that many frontline workers weren’t offered hazard pay or adequate healthcare while members of both political parties have yet to tax the wealthiest. “It’s unacceptable. We must Tax the Rich,” she wrote.
After a year where frontline workers were thrown into harm’s way (many w/o hazard pay or adequate healthcare) while billionaires hoarded another $4 TRILLION, members of both parties have tried to halt taxing the wealthiest in our society.
It’s unacceptable. We must Tax the Rich. pic.twitter.com/5hD3csMC9b
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 14, 2021