Skip To Content

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Met Gala Dress Had A Bold Message, And People Are Doing Mental Gymnastics Trying Not To Get It

    "The medium is the message."

    The 2021 Met Gala was held Monday night in New York, and this year, the theme was Celebrating in America: A Lexicon of Fashion.

    Anna Wintour arrives and waves
    Gilbert Carrasquillo / GC Images

    With attendees left to interpret the ambiguous theme for themselves, some ignored it altogether — but others, like Lupita Nyong'o, hit the proverbial nail on the head.

    Lupita Nyong'o wearing a denim gown
    Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

    Seriously, what's more American than denim?

    Still others sought to send a more overt message with their looks, emblazoning their gowns and handbags with political slogans. National Youth Poet Laureate and Met Gala cohost Amanda Gorman, for example, took inspiration from the Statue of Liberty, holding a handbag that said "Give Me Your Tired."

    Taylor Hill / WireImage, Arturo Holmes / MG21 / Getty Images

    Soccer star Megan Rapinoe carried a clutch reading "In Gay We Trust."

    Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

    Cara Delevingne's outfit said "Peg the Patriarchy."

    Taylor Hill / WireImage

    Representative Carolyn Maloney took the occasion to call for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

    Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

    And Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a gown that said, in big red letters on the back, "Tax the Rich," sending those who already love to hate her into a frenzy.

    Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

    "The medium is the message," AOC wrote in an Instagram caption. "The time is now for childcare, healthcare, and climate action for all. Tax the Rich."

    Knowing full well how some would react not only to her gown but to her mere presence at the event, she also added, "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."

    She also said she had borrowed — not bought — her dress from Brother Vellies. "Proud to work with @aurorajames as a sustainably focused, Black woman immigrant designer who went from starting her dream @brothervellies at a flea market in Brooklyn to winning the @cfda against all odds — and then work together to kick open the doors at the Met," she wrote on Instagram.

    Aurora James and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
    Arturo Holmes / Getty Images

    Nevertheless, her political opponents were out for blood.

    "Immigrant designer." She's from Ontario. "Kick the doors open at the Met." You walked around sipping cocktails and taking pictures. "Childcare for all." You support the direct murder of children. In conclusion, you're entirely full of shit

    Twitter: @MattWalshBlog

    Some, particularly disingenuous conservatives, thought it ironic that a democratic socialist wearing a gown calling for taxing the rich would even attend the gala, where the cost of a ticket runs $30,000.


    Twitter: @bennyjohnson

    But it wasn't just conservatives on Twitter. Even the New York Times chief fashion critic called the affair a "complicated proposition."

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attending the $35,000-a-ticket #MetGala in a Brother Vellies gown blaring "Tax the Rich" is a complicated proposition.

    Twitter: @VVFriedman

    The fact is, though, it's really not that complicated at all.

    AOC cups hand around mouth while talking at the Met Gala
    Ndz / NDZ/STAR MAX/IPx

    For one, there's no indication that AOC paid anything to attend the event, and as she wrote on Instagram, her gown was borrowed.

    Kevin Mazur / Getty Images For The Met Museum/Vogue

    Moreover, she wore a gown with "Tax the Rich" on it to an event full of rich people who she wants to tax more.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Aurora James
    Mike Coppola / Getty Images

    Like, it really is that simple.

    Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

    Or maybe the word is "apt," as Phillip Picardi wrote on Twitter.

    The subtext here—that people who take virtuous stances don’t belong at events populated by the elite despite these events’ consumption by AND RELIANCE OF the masses—feels misguided. Wearing a “Tax the Rich” dress in front of a bunch of rich people feels…apt to me.

    Twitter: @pfpicardi

    I, for one, think it's brilliant. That's all.

    Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

    Want amazing beauty and style tips twice a week? Sign up for the As/Is newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form