Fashion’s biggest night returned to New York City after a pandemic-induced hiatus, and while it included its usual celebrity attendees, Queens Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also made an appearance — each with statement looks.
Although the Met gala typically takes place on the first Monday in May, this year it was postponed to Monday, Sept. 13, due to COVID-19, and was a more “intimate” affair with proof of vaccination as one of the requirements, according to Vogue. The theme of this year’s gala — which is meant to celebrate and fundraise new exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute — was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney — who represents Manhattan’s Upper East Side, as well as parts of northwest Queens and Brooklyn — opted for a purple, white and gold gown with sashes that had the words “equal rights for women” embroidered on them. The gown, designed by Antonios Couture, appeared to pay homage to the suffragette movement.
Maloney, who has attended the Met gala in previous years, accessorized the gown with a small bag that had the words “ERA YES,” referencing her endorsement of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Maloney said in a tweet that night that she’s “long used fashion as a force [for] change.”
“Across the country, women’s rights are under attack,” Maloney said. “As the Met Costume Institute reopens [with] their inaugural exhibit celebrating American designers, I am calling [for] the certification of the ERA so women can be equal once and for all.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of northwestern Queens along with the Bronx, made her first appearance at the gala while wearing a white, off-the-shoulder gown complete with red embroidered words that read “Tax the Rich” on the back.
She accessorized the look with a pink flower — seemingly a Flor de Maga, the national flower of Puerto Rico.
Ocasio-Cortez’s attendance caused quite the stir on several fronts, with the message on her gown, designed by Brooklyn-based luxury designer Aurora James, being the main focus. The congresswoman has repeatedly called for higher taxes on the wealthy to invest in other sectors.
“The medium is the message,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a social media post. “The time is now for childcare, healthcare, and climate action for all. Tax the Rich.”
Some also criticized her attendance at the historically exclusive event, with tables that reportedly can cost about $200,000 and an individual ticket that can cost $30,000. It’s also been reported that some individuals can attend for free if invited by designers who will have their work showcased.
Ocasio-Cortez addressed some of those critiques in her post Monday night, noting that city elected officials are “regularly invited to and attend” the Met due to their responsibilities “in overseeing our city’s cultural institutions that serve the public.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, wearing a suit by Brooklyn designer Dreu Beckemberg, attended the gala, with first lady Chirlane McCray and their son Dante de Blasio by his side. De Blasio previously said he’s not “elite” enough to attend the ball.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson also attended the met, and snapped a photo with award-winning artist Lil Nas X.
That night, Ocasio-Cortez took to her Instagram story to show off the spike in the “Tax the Rich” term on Google.
“Surge in people looking up and discussing our f—ed up tax code is [and] how we fix it so we can fund childcare, healthcare, climate action and student loan forgiveness for all? [Aurora James] understood the assignment,” she wrote.
She added that while the night was “interesting,” she was “back on the clock” voting on the Financial Services markup of the budget bill.
Ocasio-Cortez also answered a question regarding the criticism she’s received so far, saying “I and my body have been so heavily and relentlessly policed from all corners politically since the moment I won my election that it’s kind of become expected and normalized to me.”
“Ultimately, the haters hated and the people who are thoughtful were thoughtful,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “But we all had a conversation about Taxing the Rich in front of the very people who lobby against it, and punctured the 4th wall of excess and spectacle.”