When one thinks of the Met Gala, one inevitably pictures the glitz and glam of a red carpet studded with all the hottest celebrities in the world. Whether it’s Kylie Jenner showing up in stunning Versace dresses or Katy Perry showing up as a candelabra, the event never fails to get the world buzzing!
This year was no different. On 13th September, hundreds of celebrities showed up in elaborate outfits designed to honor this year’s theme – ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’. But this time around, many of them made political as well as fashion statements. Vogue curated the theme to honor American designers along with the social, cultural, and political events which took place during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Everyone knows it’s no longer fashionable to stay apolitical, if you want to stay relevant you’ve got to pick a side – and make sure everyone knows it! The 2021 Met Gala, or ‘fashion’s biggest night out’, was the perfect opportunity for many celebrities to use their platform to spread their message; some of them had to literally spell it out for the world.
It was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, aka AOC’s, white off-shoulder dress which arguably generated the greatest controversy with its bright red text emblazoned across the back that boldly read, “Tax the Rich”.
People everywhere criticized the New York Congresswoman for her supposedly hypocritical message as she was, after all, attending one of the most extravagant soirees in the world. Others took issue with the delivery of her message, stating that the Met Gala event was as much an artistic avenue as a fashionable one; hence, her designer should have come up with a more creative way to communicate the idea instead of literally writing it down in text.
In a darker turn of events, it was revealed that the dress’ designer, Aurora James, was as controversial as the dress itself. Proof from the tax warrant database showed that James had been avoiding taxes in multiple states, as reported by The New York Post. To make matters worse, she has also been called out for deducting taxes from employees’ salaries, but not paying them, and for running what has been called a ‘sweatshop’ as she refused to pay her interns.
Despite all the backlash, many have vocalized their support for AOC’s decisions. Well-known actress, Jameela Jamil, took to Twitter to call out the critics. Among other things, she pointed out that the Congresswoman had in fact been invited to the Gala for free rather than paying thousands of dollars as the others had.
More still, appreciated her for personally holding the elite and wealthy accountable while standing in their midst. A popular rhetoric has been that regardless of the controversy, AOC managed to ensure that people around the world were thinking about and discussing her message to charge greater taxes from the rich.