When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white gown with the message “tax the rich” emblazoned in red to the Met Gala, one of New York’s swankiest events, she was sure to ruffle some feathers.
Critics duly disparaged the move as both hypocritical and tone deaf. The New York congresswoman, a leading House progressive, was happy to set the record straight.
“The medium is the message,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Instagram.
“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. Dress is borrowed.”
Ocasio-Cortez was also determined to use the spotlight to reiterate her commitment to principles that have made her both an icon and a lightning rod on the national political scene, widely known by her initials, AOC.
“The time is now for childcare, healthcare and climate action for all,” she wrote. “Tax the Rich.”
The dress turned heads at arguably the hottest red carpet event of the year. Ocasio-Cortez lauded Aurora James, the Black, immigrant creative director and founder of luxury brand Brother Vellies, for helping her “kick open the doors” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“Fashion is changing, America is changing,” James said, according to Vogue. “I think Alexandria and I are a great embodiment of the language fashion needs to consider adding to the general lexicon as we work towards a more sustainable, inclusive and empowered future.”
Fans dubbed the look “simply iconic” and called Ocasio-Cortez “an anti-capitalist queen”. Some appreciated that when surrounded by the elite, Ocasio-Cortez chose to flash a message meant to make fellow guests sweat.
Detractors highlighted what they saw as hypocrisy.