Known as fashion’s biggest night out, The Met Gala hosted some of the most distinguished celebrities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021. The theme of the night was “American Independence,” prompting captivating Old Hollywood looks, striking political statements, and a wide array of Red, White, and Blue flare. Famous American designers such as Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Sergio Hudson, and Tom Ford were prominent designers on display.
Vogue said it best when they described the 2021 fashions as “joy, rebellion, and nostalgia” (Vogue). However, some looks went a little bit further… Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s “Tax the Rich” gown, in particular, spiked controversy for its bold political statement.
Some claimed that the dress was hypocritical on the basis of the $35,000 Met Gala ticket (though she was able to attend for free as an Elected Official). Conversely, AOC supporters argued that she was taking a deliberate jab at the elitist guests and inserting her ideology on her targets. AOC herself argued that she aimed to “puncture the fourth wall of excess and spectacle” The New York Times stated that along with this she “cites a double standard in scrutiny of male and female politicians.”
Despite her intentions, two more points may hinder the goal of her daring fashion statement. First, the claims against the dress designer, Aurora James. The Washington Times claimed that Aurora James has a net worth of over $2 million, and the New York Post has accused her of owing more than $130,000 in taxes. This would clearly be an ethical dilemma. Lastly, as mentioned earlier, it has been concluded that AOC did not pay for her ticket as elected officials are offered free admission. There have been allegations that this is unethical as well, and goes against the House rule that “an impermissible gift” cannot be received. Further action on this issue has been yet to be determined. AOC’s gown will undoubtedly be one that is remembered in future Galas to come, as it represented yet another unique medium through which to express one’s opinion: fashion.
(Photos: Getty Images / Collage by David Vo)
Nast, Condé. “Met Gala 2021 Red Carpet: See All Celebrity Dresses, Outfits & Looks Here.” Vogue, Vogue, 13 Sept. 2021, www.vogue.com/slideshow/met-gala-2021-red-carpet-live-celebrity-fashion.
Testa, Jessica. “A.O.C.’s Met Gala Designer Explains Her ‘Tax the Rich’ Dress.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Sept. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/09/16/style/aoc-designer-tax-the-rich-dress.html.
Morton, Victor. “AOC ‘Tax the Rich’ DRESSMAKER a Tax DEADBEAT: REPORT.” The Washington Times, The Washington Times, 19 Sept. 2021, www.washingtontimes.com/news/2021/sep/19/aurora-james-aoc-tax-rich-dressmaker-tax-deadbeat-/.
(Copyright Sage Christensen 2021)