Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Met Gala robe message sparked controversy. Why ‘slogan style’ is returning to pink carpets.

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On Monday night time, style lovers watched because the who’s who of artwork, tradition and politics strutted down the pink carpet at the Met Gala 2021, the style trade’s most anticipated occasion of the yr. While attendees gave the worldwide style world a lot to devour, one specific second continues to face out.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez turned heads when she appeared in a white robe, designed by Brother Vellies, with pink lettering throughout the again that learn: “Tax the Rich.”

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The Democratic congresswoman from New York reiterated her message on Instagram just a few hours after strolling the carpet: “The time is now for childcare, healthcare, and climate action for all. Tax the Rich,” she wrote alongside a pic of her being fitted by designer Aurora James.

Though AOC’s message about financial inequality was real, it didn’t resonate for some who seen her attendance as hypocritical, with a number of stating that the high-level occasion is attended by a few of America’s wealthiest folks.

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According to Vogue, these on the visitor record wouldn’t have to pay. But those that aren’t on the record might should fork out round $30,000 for a seat — and shopping for a desk can price round $275,000.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attending the $35,000-a-ticket #MetGala in a Brother Vellies gown blaring ‘Tax the Rich’ is a complicated proposition,” Vanessa Friedman, chief style critic on the New York Times, wrote on Twitter. Other actors and thought leaders, similar to actor Michael Rapaport and Ana Navarro, echoed related sentiments.

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Ocasio-Cortez later cleared the air by stating that she was invited to the occasion and didn’t pay to attend, regardless of some feedback and studies suggesting in any other case.

“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,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. She additionally famous that she had borrowed the gown from the designer.

Ocasio-Cortez was removed from the one politician to attend the Met Gala. N.Y. Rep. Carolyn Maloney additionally used her attendance this yr to ship one other political message by carrying an outfit embroidered with the textual content: “Equal Rights for Women.”

Ocasio-Cortez later took to her Instagram Stories to say that whereas “haters hated,” the occasion was an unbelievable alternative to have “a conversation about Taxing the Rich in front of the very people who lobby against it” earlier than acknowledging the double normal girls of coloration face in politics.

“The more intersections one has, the deeper the disdain,” she stated. “I am so used to doing the same exact thing that men do — including popular male progressive elected officials — and getting a completely different response.”

Using style to drive a political message — refined or in any other case — is nothing new.

As Teen Vogue factors out, denim performed a big function within the civil rights motion, changing into a “symbol of the Black freedom struggle.” Before that point, denim was typically related to Black sharecroppers within the South.

Fashion additionally performed a distinguished function throughout the girls’s liberation motion, the publication notes. During the Miss America protest of 1968, protesters dumped objects like lipstick, stockings and bras right into a garbage can to ship a message about unrealistic magnificence requirements girls face. 

The coloration white additionally has a historic which means for the ladies’s suffrage motion. In the early 1900s, carrying white grew to become an accessible approach for anybody to hitch the trigger — which means girls of any race or financial standing might afford to decorate the half. Ocasio-Cortez has spoken in regards to the coloration white up to now and why she continues to make use of it immediately as an homage to suffragists.

The evolution of style activism reverberates immediately. Bronwyn Cosgrave, writer of Made for Each Other: Fashion and the Academy Awards and former editor of British Vogue, tells Yahoo Life that immediately’s style is coming into a brand new section the place self-expression and “slogan fashion” is on the forefront.

“When you see these ‘best and worst’ dressed lists, you don’t even see the name of the designer on the list,” Cosgrave says. “You just see the person and they’re saying ‘worst’ when they haven’t even bothered to look investigate the actual identity of the designer, or the kind of inspirational sources behind the designer. That’s what makes me angry. There is no ‘best or worst’ anymore. We’re living in an era of fearless self-expression. Get used to it.”

While up to now, Cosgrave argues, pink carpet style has been an effective way to “make a political statement,” what she calls “slogan clothing” is a blossoming artwork that’s “more overt.”

Red carpets are sometimes essentially the most highly effective place to make such daring statements. 

At the 2018 Oscars, attendees embraced the Time’s Up motion by carrying black or carrying Time’s Up pins in solidarity. In 2019, Joy Villa wore a vivid pink latex gown that learn “F*** Planned Parenthood” to the Los Angeles premiere of Unplanned, an anti-abortion movie based mostly on former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson’s guide.

Cosgrave factors to designers like Anthony Vaccarello, inventive director at Saint Laurent, who discovered success in reviving Saint Laurent’s “Love” slogan by placing it on the again of jackets — a inventive move different designers (and celebrities) adopted.

“It’s a ‘love’ emblem, which is a very positive message and it was on T-shirts,” she says. “Then you saw a controversial sampling of that by Melania Trump when she wore the ‘I really don’t care, do u?’ jacket on her back. It’s ‘slogan clothing’ — and you see it all over the streets of New York.”

Still, she admits there’s a double normal when the wearer of such style is within the political sphere like Ocasio-Cortez.

“When you’re a divisive character, you can’t win,” Cosgrave, host of the podcast A Different Tweed, says of Ocasio-Cortez. “Let’s look outside of politics at someone like Madonna or even Susan Sarandon back in the day when she was going to the Oscars and wearing an AIDS pin. That was considered controversial by the Hollywood establishment [at the time], believe it or not.”

“If AOC went to the Met Gala in something sober — or something that’s just an afterthought — her critics would jump all over her anyway,” Cosgrave says. On the flip aspect, she argues, if Ocasio-Cortez had been gifted a stupendous ball robe by a luxurious model, she would have had related backlash.

Instead, what the congresswoman determined to do was to lift the profile of an unbiased designer, James, who is understood for spearheading the 15% Pledge initiative, which urges retailers and firms to commit 15 p.c of their buying energy to supporting Black-owned companies. 

“She is a fearless character,” Cosgrave says of Ocasio-Cortez. “And let’s face it, she’s an attractive woman. She knows how to project herself, and in that way she’s going for it. She is using fashion as a platform to elevate a designer who needs the support, and at the same time, she’s going to put some messaging into it. It’s a collaboration, right? And it works. People are talking about it. Right?”

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