We’re used to seeing standout fashion looks on the Met Gala carpet, but this year, celebrity attendees made powerful political statements as well. If there were ever a time to do it, it would be now, considering this year’s theme was selected to celebrate the innovation and influence of American fashion. What’s more inherently American, after all, than voicing one’s political beliefs while the entire world is watching?
The night saw a range of celebs and public servants, including writer and actor Dan Levy, congresswomen Carolyn B. Maloney and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and supermodel Cara Delevingne, make their way up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in looks that sparked conversation. Below, we’ve rounded up the night’s most memorable socially conscious creations.
Related article: All The Best Red Carpet Looks At The Met Gala 2021
Carolyn B. Maloney
Carolyn Bosher Maloney was one of the first Met Gala attendees to send a political message. The congresswoman wore a vibrant multicolored look that paid homage to the women’s rights movement. The message, “Equal rights for women,” was painted in all caps on her gown, and her coordinating clutch read, “ERA YES.”
“Across the country, women’s rights are under attack. I have long used fashion as a force 4 change,” Maloney wrote on Twitter. “As the Met Costume Institute reopens w/ their inaugural exhibit celebrating American designers, I am calling 4 the certification of the ERA so women can be equal once and for all.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore one of the buzziest ensembles of the evening, teaming up with fashion designer Aurora James of Brother Vellies for a white off-the-shoulder gown with the phrase, “Tax the rich,” sewn onto the back in bright red satin. The outfit quickly caused a stir on social media, with many calling out the congresswoman for attending an event synonymous with the 1 percent.
But Ocasio-Cortez shut down those critics. “The medium is the message. Proud to work with @aurorajames as a sustainably focused, Black woman immigrant designer who went from starting her dream @brothervellies at a flea market in Brooklyn to winning the @cfda against all odds – and then work together to kick open the doors at the Met,” AOC wrote on Instagram. “The time is now for childcare, healthcare, and climate action for all. Tax the Rich.”
She continued, “And yes, BEFORE anybody starts wilding out – NYC elected officials are regularly invited to and attend the Met due to our responsibilities in overseeing our city’s cultural institutions that serve the public. I was one of several in attendance. Dress is borrowed via @brothervellies 🤗.”
British supermodel Cara Delevingne opted for a less avant-garde ensemble that still managed to garner a lot of attention. She wore a skin-baring vest and matching white tailored suit by Dior with the phrase, “Peg the patriarchy,” embroidered across her chest in all caps. The model’s message: It’s time to dismantle the archaic and misogynistic systems that hold women back, in fashion and beyond.
The Schitt’s Creek star made a major statement in a custom suit created in collaboration with Jonathan Anderson from Spanish fashion house Loewe. The image on the front is derived from two pieces by the openly queer New York artist and activist David Wojnarowicz, who died of AIDS in 1992. The centerpiece illustration of two men kissing, according to Levy, was meant to make a declarative and proud statement of queer love.
“Dan is our gay superhero. Through his comedy, he is able to knock down cultural barriers,” Anderson told Vanity Fair. “We wanted to make something that allows him to make queer love visible and we found that through the seminal works of David Wojnarowicz.”
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US