"We can't just play along, we need to break the fourth wall and challenge some of the institutions," the congresswoman explained.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made heads turn at the Met Gala on Monday night when she showed up in a floor-length white gown with a not-so-subtle political message. Posing for photos on the red carpet, the Democratic-Socialist congresswoman proudly showed off the words "Tax the Rich" emblazoned in red on the back of her off-the-shoulder gown by Brother Vellies' Aurora James. The message is very much on-brand for the progressive politician who, in 2019, proposed taxing the wealthy up to 70 percent to help fund the Green New Deal. Seeing as how she even sells a "Tax the Rich" sweatshirt on her website, it makes perfect sense that AOC would choose to make this statement at the high fashion fête — where tickets reportedly cost up to $35,000 each.
"When Aurora and I were first kind of partnered, we really started having a conversation about what it means to be working-class women of color at the Met, and we said, 'We can't just play along, but we need to break the fourth wall and challenge some of the institutions,'" the 31-year-old said during a red carpet interview with James, reports NBC News. "While the Met is known for its spectacle, we should have a conversation about it."
Sharing a behind-the-scenes photo from what seems to have been a fitting on Instagram, AOC wrote: "The medium is the message. Proud to work with [Aurora James] as a sustainably focused, Black woman immigrant designer who went from starting her dream [Brother Vellies] at a flea market in Brooklyn to winning the [CFDA Fashion Awards] against all odds - and then work together to kick open the doors at the Met. The time is now for childcare, healthcare, and climate action for all. Tax the Rich."
"And yes, 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. Dress is borrowed via [Brother Vellies]," she added. Speaking to Vogue, James—founder and creative director of Brother Vellies and the founder of the 15 Percent Pledge—explained how they came up with the design for AOC's gown in keeping with this year's theme of "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion."
"We can never get too comfortable in our seats at the table once they've been given," she said. "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." AOC's ensemble was finished off with a pair of red shoes from Brother Vellies, that featured long laces and bright flowers along the heel. Her bag also read "tax the rich," to really drive the message home in case someone failed to notice the big red letters on her gown.
Twitterverse was fully on board with AOC's statement-making look at the Met Gala. "AOC wearing this dress at an event full of rich people... this woman has more balls than any man in Congress," tweeted @Laura_of_ATL. "AOC wearing a Tax the Rich dress at the #MetGala with Kris Jenner over her shoulder wow icon," commented @highxculture. There were also some who criticized the congresswoman for making a "tax the rich" statement at fashion's glitziest night. However, Twitter user @KnowNothingTV hit back at the critiques by writing: "When AOC was a bartender demanding that we tax the rich, people said that she was just jealous of them. And now that AOC IS amongst the elite and STILL advocating to increase their taxes, those same people are dismissing her as a hypocrite."
"Conservatives can't rebut most left-wing arguments, so they try to ignore our arguments by finding some way to attack the person making the argument. That's what is happening here," they added. "We win by ignoring their personal attacks and reiterating the winning arguments we have."