Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘tax the rich’ Met Gala gown sparked a firestorm. We talked to the Canadian designer who created it

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This is the most striking image of the Met Gala: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wearing a white custom Brother Vellies gown with the words “Tax the Rich” stretched across the back in bold red letters. As with anything designed to grab attention, the dress of the New York Congresswoman has attracted a strongly opinionated backlash on both sides of the political aisle.

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In fact, AOC’s Gal. with The dress is pretty much the only thing the internet has wanted to talk about since Monday night’s incident, even in a year when Kim Kardashian’s only visible part in a Balenciaga outfit was her ponytail, and Frank Ocean walked the red carpet with Robot-Kids as an assistant.

First let’s talk about the dress. Ocasio-Cortez’s gown was designed by a Brooklyn-based, Canada-raised aurora james. James is the founder of the CFDA-award-winning accessories line Brother Wellies and 15 percent pledge, a campaign that asks retailers to dedicate at least that amount of shelf space to Black-owned businesses: Sephora, Indigo and Nordstrom are just a few of the stores to sign on yet. He has also been named as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2021. James also styled Ocasio-Cortez in jewelry Better, co-founded by Toronto-based brand Noura Sakizha.


In a post-Gala interview with The Kit, James explained why he and Ocasio-Cortez designed the dress the way it was. “We wanted to make sure that if Congressman was going to come to the Met Gala, she was going to deliver a message,” James said. “It’s been very hard the last 18 months, almost two years, and New York City was hit extra hard. Knowing that there is so much support that needs to be received to people who often survive less than that, This message felt particularly fitting. Regarding that “tax on the rich” message: The idea to literally write it in Ocasio-Cortez’s body came to James when she wondered “how people want to objectify women, And want to separate them from our message.”

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In a red-carpet interview on Monday night, Ocasio-Cortez shared that the dress was born out of conversations around “being a working-class woman of color at the Met,” and that she and James felt they were “just getting along.” Can’t play,” but “wanted to break the fourth wall and challenge some institutions.” The dress was, they both agreed, always meant to be a conversation starter. Eventually, as Jacobs told us: “If You have a message to give to a certain group of people, so you can also go where they are to tell them.”

James walked the red carpet with Ocasio-Cortez at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and he says the response was overwhelmingly positive. “Most people were really excited about it,” she recalled. “People know who she is, and they were proud that she entered the room as the same woman she always is. There with getting a seat at the table and the topic of conversation at her back.” It takes a lot of courage to show up — and it’s one that’s going to make people uncomfortable — and she doesn’t hold back.”

Of course, “taxing the rich” at an event famous for its distinguished guest list and at least $38,000 (usually paid for by brands, though some tickets are by invitation) is a quip. Enter angry reactions from pundits and commentators. The cry of “hypocrisy” was immediate, with many accusing Ocasio-Cortez – a democratic socialist – of trying to eat her radical cake and eating it too. The New York Times’ fashion director, Vanessa Friedman, called it a “complicated proposition,” while conservative pundit Megyn Kelly chose a blurry instrument, calling the congresswoman “a pathetic, self-indulgent hypocrite” in one tweet, while another Right-wing commentators called him “the most phony of phonies”.

“As a Canadian, I’m always a little surprised about what people find controversial in the US versus Canada,” James said. “I don’t see anything wrong with suggesting that 1 percent helps with more meaningful capacity if we’re going to try to change the wealth gap in this country, which is staggering and only keeps getting worse.”

While such anger is par for the depressing course for Ocasio-Cortez and female politicians in general, there was also some pushback from the left. “Not gonna hate @aoc. But come on, going to an event for the superrich with ‘tax the rich’ written on your ass won’t change anything,” tweeted left-wing political commentator Ana Navarro-Cardenas. for a stunt that doesn’t match his political personality.”

Aurora James and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez congratulate fellow Met Gala guest actress Gemma Chan and designer Prabal Gurung.

The question of why she left haunts many people. For his part, Ocasio-Cortez is framing this as an opportunity to push for change from the inside. On his Instagram Stories, in response to a follower’s question to critics for his response, he wrote that “we all talked about taxing the rich in front of those who lobbied against it, and additional Puncture the fourth wall and make a spectacle.” (There’s a Trojan Horse dressed in white silk, if you like.) She pointed to the increase of people Googling the U.S. tax code as evidence that “Aurora James understood the assignment.”

She also wrote that the way her decisions are judged differs significantly from her male political counterparts, alluding to the fact that she attends the Met Gala (New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Democratic New York Representative). She was one of several elected officials. Caroline Maloney also participated), who was there because of the responsibility of keeping cultural institutions accessible to the public. She wrote on Instagram Stories, “I thought that was the criticism I would get, but honestly myself and my body have been so heavily and relentlessly polished from all corners that it has become expected and normal for me.” “After all the haters hated and those who were considerate were the considerate.” He ended with an incentive to visit the museum and see the exhibits — which have a flexible admission fee for those living in the New York City area — “because the weather belongs to the people.”

Sarah Lang is a Toronto-based freelance contributor to The Kit, writing about celebrity and culture. Follow him on Twitter: @sarahjanelaing

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