Can fashion have ideology? Should a gala be political? There is no event that better brings both dilemmas together than the MET Gala, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Last year the pandemic frustrated the parade of extravagant dresses and impossible accessories, so in this edition the expectation was double.
What no one anticipated was that the dress that would give more to talk about was white, simple and with a few words daubed in red on the tail: “Tax the rich” – taxes for the rich. The absolute protagonist has been Alexandra Ocasio Cortez. The New York congresswoman wore a dart directed at the majority of those attending the most important fashion gala on the carpet.
Some have seen it as an eloquent Greek strategy. A Trojan horse. A criticism of the distribution of wealth in the United States wrapped in an envelope with a value of 35,000 euros, which is what the silverware costs at the subsequent dinner. But not everything has been applause.
Conservative voices have taken the opportunity to call the younger politics of the US Congress hypocritical. How do you judge something while rubbing shoulders with it, sharing the salt and posing next to it in front of the paparazzi? That criticism has even come from the sector that supports the AOC Democratic caucus.
“Fisher, capitalist realism has trapped the public with the idea that anti-capitalism is no longer the antithesis of capitalism. Instead, it is deployed as a means of reinforcing capitalism,” reads one of the images that has gone viral the most with the bottom dress. Another day we talked about the rigid standards that work only for left-wing representatives. Also another day we talked about why these criticisms are for AOC and not for Carolyn B. Maloney, also a Democratic congressman and also protesting in her wardrobe choice, in this case to honor suffragettes and defend women’s rights.
Ocasio-Cortez has explained in two short tweets that her dress was not just a white fabric with some red letters. That the designer, Aurora James, is a black and immigrant woman, focused on sustainable fashion and who some time ago sold her pieces at a street market in Brooklyn. At an event where Versace, Gucci, Dior and Moschino dominate the spotlight with designs that are around 50 million dollars, AOC has bet on local workforce and talent pushed to the margins. That is message. The photo in which she tells the story of Aurora James and appears next to her accumulates more likes Than anyone posed on the red carpet. That is also a message.
Is it a weakness or a strength that the setting for the message is one of the most opulent and excessive finery on the planet? It would be the first if AOC had contributed $ 35,000 out of pocket to pay for a show that many describe as frivolous. This has not been the case: the organization has invited elected officials from New York. Ocasio Cortez is a politician, not an activist. In his daily agenda is to interact with people who are at the antipodes of his discourse and ideology, and also work for them. It is an act more courageous than hypocritical to appear among the greatest fortunes of your country yelling for their taxes to be raised. That they pay more to the State, they do, for allowing themselves to pay 35,000 euros per plate. Would staying home and tweeting some outburst against the MET have had the same effect? I do not believe it.
Any gala can be political. Fashion can send a message. Another different debate is whether it should, but it does not proceed in this case. It is so weak to say that Spanish actors should not accept the awards and go to the galas of an industry that is sometimes hostile, that the Oscars cannot be the loudspeaker of sensibilities that do not matter to the members of the Academy, or that a musician does not he must play in front of an advertising canvas, as AOC has punctured in this gesture. Her dress and her speech during and after the gala coincide with what she preaches from the congressional bench. It is his message and it is much more powerful than that of those who reduce him to a hypocrite.