Skip to content

Dress designed by Guelph native creates worldwide buzz at Met Gala

U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a dress that read 'TAX THE RICH' in red letters

A dress worn by American congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and designed by Guelph native Aurora James created a buzz around the world Monday because of the message plastered in large red letters across the fabric.

'TAX THE RICH,' it said on the white dress worn by Ocasio-Cortez to the Met Gala, an event that charges $35,000 per ticket and sees some of the biggest names in fashion every year. Ocasio-Cortez received a free ticket to the event.

Beside Ocasio-Cortez stood the designer of her dress, Aurora James, a Black Canadian woman from Guelph. 

“She models a message,” said James at the Met Gala describing Ocasio-Cortez’s dress. 

“It's like, if you’re going to come somewhere like the Met Gala, and you're the congresswoman, we would expect nothing less.”

Ocasio-Cortez also held a mini red bag that had ‘TAX THE RICH’ written in white letters. 

James, of Canadian and Ghanaian descent and was born in Guelph. In 2013, she launched an accessory label called Brother Vellies in New York, where she now lives.

“I love Aurora’s story. It came in the wake of the George Floyd protest and folks per usual started calling her up, ‘What do we do? What do we do’,” said Ocasio-Cortez to reporters at the event.

Last year, James launched a pledge called the 15 Percent Pledge — four days after the passing of George Floyd— calling on American retailers to commit a minimum of 15 percent of their shelves to Black-owned businesses.

Last September, an opinion piece by James was published in The Toronto Star calling Canadian vendors to sign the 15 Percent Pledge specifically named the 15 Percent Pledge Canada.

James described the social landscape in Canada as having a 3.5 per cent Black population and a five per cent Indigenous population. She said the same principles that apply to the American 15 Percent Pledge apply to the 15 Percent Pledge Canada.


Anam Khan

About the Author: Anam Khan

Anam Khan is a journalist who covers numerous beats in Guelph and Wellington County that include politics, crime, features, environment and social justice
Read more