Rep. AOC’s 2021 Met Gala Dress: Iconic or Hypocritical?

Eryn Gadson, Fashion Reporter

On Monday, Sept. 13 the 2021 Met Gala was hosted after a two-year-long hiatus. Fashion, society and people’s mindsets have changed drastically during this absence. This year’s theme was “America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” which is a tribute to American Fashion; since the past two years will most definitely go down in the history books. The co-chairs of the event were Billie Eilish, Timothée Chalamet, Naomi Osaka and Amanda Gorman. This Met Gala in particular received a lot of attention (especially controversy,) not only about the interesting fashion choices but also politically. 

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s dress received a lot of backlash in particular. According to one of her Instagram posts, “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.” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez also then goes on to credit the many people who worked on Met Gala look and mentions that her dress was borrowed. At the event, she was seen wearing an off-the-shoulder white gown with the words “Tax The Rich” in bold red lettering accompanied by a matching bag.

After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Met Gala look was photographed at the event and eventually reposted across all platforms on the internet, many people were in favor of her statement…while others saw it as pure hypocrisy.

The individuals who were against the dress usually agree with the said statement, but it was a matter of who was wearing it and where. It was pointed out that Rep. AOC went to an event that was only for rich people and where the tickets are priced around 30k dollars (disregarding the fact that she went to the event for free and borrowed the dress.) These same people added that she is a rich politician herself, even if she pays her taxes or doesn’t — many people believed this lacked self-awareness and was just purely performative activism.

On the other hand, people on the other end of this debate loved Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s dress and the statement; they argued that it was bold to have such a statement in a room full of rich people and that it would bring more awareness to this thought of “taxing the rich”.  They also pointed out Rep. AOC’s statement that she posted on Twitter expressing that she, “Couldn’t agree more. Taxing the rich will help us expand Medicare, extend childcare, take action on climate, and so much more.”

No matter the stance on Rep. AOC’s dress, there should be more attention brought to the designer of the dress, Aurora James. She is a black woman immigrant designer who sustainably made the dress. Aurora James uses fashion in order to express her values and identity. The dress represents Aurora James’s feelings on the matter of economics, race, and the environment; she used Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in order to get her message acknowledged and grab attention (which was accomplished.) On an Instagram post of Aurora James, she stated that “With access comes great opportunity. We can never get too comfortable in our seats at the table once they’ve been given. We must always continue to push ourselves, push our colleagues, push the culture and push this Country Forward. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Fashion is changing, America is changing.”

And it is true — America is changing; no matter if one thinks that Rep. AOC’s dress at the 2021 Met Gala was iconic or hypocritical…fashion is meant to reflect the world around us.