AOC’s Met Gala look didn’t meet my expectations

October 7, 2021 — by Shreya Rallabandi
AOC’s Aurora James gown at the 2021 Met Gala
 AOC stunned America with a gown reading “TAX THE RICH.”

The 2021 Met Gala on Sept. 13 was — quite plainly — plain.  From a Party City-esque two piece to a blazer that looks straight out of the Anne Klein section of Macy’s to the annual chain mail dress to a literal blanket, the outfits were somehow avant-garde in the most atrocious way, and most did not do any justice to the Met Gala’s history of grandeur.

This year’s theme was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” Celebrity guests usually partner with designers to interpret the year’s theme and create a look that is perfectly fitted and ambitious. Multiple political and social statements made their way onto the red carpet. New York Representative Carolyn Maloney carried a purse reading “ERA” for the Equal Rights for Women act, and rapper Saweetie wore a Christian Crowan gown that had a  train that was an homage to both the Black American Heritage and Filipino flags.

The most notable of the political looks, however, was the Aurora James gown that New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, better known as AOC, wore: a sleek, white, off-the-shoulder mermaid gown with a large tulle fringe. The words “TAX THE RICH,” were emblazoned across the back of the gown in harsh red.

For those who may not be too familiar with the Met Gala, here’s a quick run-down: It’s simultaneously a fundraiser for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and a high-profile social event for the world’s famous. Every year, Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour creates a list of approximately 600 invitees, consisting of celebrities, billionaires and designers. All the guests spend time getting custom-made looks from the world’s top designers, such as Iris Van Herpen and Donatella Versace, which culminates in the actual gala’s red carpet, exhibit, cocktail dinner and, of course, loads of paparazzi. It’s essentially a celebrity prom, but with invitations. Oh, and, if you don’t get invited, the tickets cost $35,000 each.

By now, the hypocrisy of AOC’s dress may have already reached you — being at an event that represents the pinnacle of wealth and fame, an event which costs its guests $35,000 to attend, and demanding higher taxes for the rich? Hypocrisy exudes from the situation.

I feel the need to preface the rest of this by clarifying that I wholeheartedly support the idea of taxing the rich. I don’t think billionaires should exist. And some may argue that donning a dress amidst the affluence of the Met Gala is the perfect way to make a statement. Some may argue that the argument is tone-deaf, considering that she and her constituents have not actually increased any taxes for the United States’ “top five percent.”

But I think that, no matter what AOC’s intention was, her protest execution was extremely poor.

The Met Gala’s setting wasn’t ideal for a tone-deaf claim, especially considering that protestors advocating for racial justice were being arrested right outside of the Met Museum. On one hand, it definitely took guts to wear a dress that dons a blaring message that attacks those she’s dining and partying with, but on the other hand, she’s dining and partying with them. Going to a $35,000 event and wearing an expensive dress asking to tax the rich? It seems a tad ironic.

AOC was not the only guest who used their outfit to convey a message — Cara Delivigne bore a chestplate reading “peg the patriarchy” on the red carpet. And at least AOC was not the only one who had completely missed in the outfits aesthetics department: Model and designer Ella Emhoff, Vice President Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter, wore a sparkly red bodysuit with matching red sweatpants that had basically nothing to do with America or lexicons of fashion.

At the end of the day, this year’s Met Gala was just disappointing, in more ways than one. I’m all for political and social opinions being expressed in one’s fashion choices, but I’d advise anyone doing so to check themselves before they choose to wear exotic furs to a PETA conference or a hunter’s jacket reading “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” to a detention center for migrant children.

But if you’d like to make a statement, the bare minimum is to look good while you do it.

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