Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the face of the progressives among US Democrats, was an unlikely presence at the Met Gala 2021, one of fashion’s biggest events. But as is typical of Ocasio-Cortez, her presence was stellar and made a statement. Donning a white dress with the message “tax the rich” emblazoned in red, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent tongues wagging. When critics disparaged her for what they called a hypocritical and tone-deaf move, Ocasio-Cortez set the record straight. “The medium is the message,” she wrote on Instagram.

Explaining her decision to attend the Met Gala, the young New York congresswoman said, “NYC elected officials are regularly invited to and attend the Met due to our responsibilities in overseeing the city’s cultural institutions that serve the public. I was one of the several in attendance. Dress is borrowed.”

“The time is now for childcare, healthcare and climate action for all,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s dress was designed by Aurora James, a Black immigrant creative director and the founder of Brother Vellies, a luxury brand.

Aurora James told CNN in an interview that the purpose of the dress was to send out a message. “When you get a seat at the table, you have to decide what the message is that you want to deliver”, she said.

On being asked how James knew Ocasio-Cortez, the designer said that the New York congresswoman had followed her work during her bartending days.

“Fashion is changing, America is changing,” James told Vogue adding, “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.”

Alexandria’s supports and fans hailed her dress and some even went so far as to call her an “anti-capitalist queen”. One of her supporters tweeted, “AOC wearing this dress at an event full of rich people…this woman has more balls than any man in Congress.”

Detractors, however, called her out for what they say is hypocrisy. “If AOC hates the rich so much, why is she attending an event that only the wealthiest people in America can afford to attend?” asked writer David Hookstead, according to Guardian.