Bold statements and shock-and-awe looks are what the Met Gala is all about. But this year’s red carpet was stepped up a notch with a couple of powerful, political statements in the sea of gowns and suits.
Cara Delevingne wore an industrial white vest with “Peg the Patriarchy” emblazoned across it in red capital letters. Designed by Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri, the statement piece was paired with white tailored trousers and heels.
When asked about her provocative statement, the model and actress said, “It’s about women empowerment, gender equality — it’s a bit like, ‘stick it to the man,’”. Gesturing towards the word ‘peg,’ she says, “If anyone doesn’t know what this word means, you’re gonna have to look it up because I’m not going to explain it right now.”
US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made her Met Gala debut in a Cruella-esque floor-length white gown. The off-the-shoulder moment had “tax the rich” scrawled on the back of the dress, in large red letters (her matching bag shared the same slogan). The Brother Vellies piece was a declaration of progress and hope for economic equality. Founder Aurora James told Vogue, “We can never get too comfortable in our seats at the table once they’ve been given.”
Fellow congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney stunned in a colourful, banner-like gown that featured multiple, “Equal rights for women” ribbons cascading down from her shoulders. The 75-year-old held a green tambourine prop that read, “Era Yes.” Her purple, green and yellow ensemble was a tribute to the 19th Amendment that granted American women the right to vote.
It is not the first time that politics and fashion have collided on a red carpet, and it’s far from the last. Fashion can speak on its wearers’ behalf, sending powerful shockwaves among those watching from afar. Take Natalie Portman’s 2020 Oscars embroidered cape, etched with the names of eight female directors snubbed of an Oscar nomination that year. Or Viktor & Rolf’s hyperbolic slogan tulle gowns, a direct reflection of pop culture and the Internet’s meme cycle.
These fashion moments capture important historical and cultural shifts. They have the ability to preserve collective mindsets through photos that are cemented in the minds of fashion lovers and casual social media scrollers alike. And after the last two years of political and economic upheaval and race and class reckonings, the statements ring truer than ever before.
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