Aurora James is making her mark in the fashion industry. She is the founder and director of Brother Vellies. Her magnificent sustainability-focused jewelry designs that honor African design techniques earned her a prestigious nomination for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent from the Council of Fashion Designers of America – she was the first black woman to be nominated for this. price.
Her designs have been worn by Beyoncé, Meghan Markle, Zendaya, Rihanna, Serena Williams, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Chrissy Teigen and Solange. And James is determined to create a space for his fellow black designers. She founded The Fifteen Percent Pledge, creating a campaign for retail brands to devote 15% of their storage space to black-owned businesses.
Last night, the black Canadian designer graced the red carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual fundraising gala with a custom dress worn by progressive politician NY-14 Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). James, an American immigrant, sponsored AOC at the Met Gala and created the design for the dress. AOC paired red lace-up sandals with the dress, with the Puerto Rican Flor de Maga and a matching flower in her hair.
Art informs the values of society. Here, two women of color came together to create a striking piece that they likely knew would cause a ruckus. The bold red “Tax the Rich” statement on the back of the dress forced people to talk about taxes – at a fashion event filled with the wealthy elite and celebrities, nothing less.
Some people were quick to call the so-called waterfall an example of “white feminism.” Others have made the crass comparison of James’ dress worn by AOC at the Met Gala to that of former First Lady Melania Trump: “I really don’t care, do I?” jacket. These feelings erase not only the ethnic and racial identity of the two women, but also their remarkable efforts to create fairness. Manipulating the statement to fit an agenda other than the intent to raise tax awareness for the elite supports oppression, white supremacy, and gate control.
AOC made the bold choice to wear this dress in a 1% full room. She used a much photographed, publicized and reported event to raise awareness about tax reform by wearing her stance over her dress. Call it a stunt or a statement – the dress makes people research what it means to ‘tax the rich’. It’s trending on Google and Twitter. Many publications write articles about the dress and the chosen words painted on it.
Frankly, AOC sparked a conversation by simply showing up at an event in a dress. She could have stayed at home and “taxing the rich” would not be a trend. Without AOC wearing the dress designed by James, this would have been another Met Gala without too much awareness of the wealth gap.
While it is strange how much the public is obsessed with politicians and their activities outside of office hours, it is the reality of modern politics. After all, the last American president was a reality TV star. AOC is constantly ridiculed for her personal decisions, from the cost of her haircut to her choice to attend the Met Gala. Politicians have attended the gala before without such ridicule. Former First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the 2014 fundraiser by cutting the ribbon for the event.
The line between politicians and celebrities is difficult to define. President Biden’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign used many tactics, including inviting pop stars such as Olivia Rodrigo to the White House and the famous Seth Phillips aka @DudeWithSign to come through the Oval Office to a photo shoot with one of his signs to read: “Let’s take care of each other and get vaccinated”.
Modern politics rely on the support of celebrities and politicians making appearances at celebrity-dense events. It is a strategic decision to make a political statement at a red carpet event that attracts international attention. AOC has capitalized on this strange part of American society by using its platform to raise awareness for an important cause. If you think it’s white feminism, you haven’t understood.