‘The handwriting is the same,’ designer says of slogan emblazoned on congresswoman’s Met Gala gown
On Monday, the congresswoman sparked controversy after arriving on the red carpet of the annual fashion event in a white strapless gown by Brother Vellies, which featured the slogan emblazoned on the back in red.
While the bold look made a statement, The Velvet Bandit, a California-based artist, has since claimed that the print on the gown was inspired by her own work, with the otherwise-anonymous designer calling out Aurora James, the founder of Brother Vellies, on Instagram.
“Look familiar? @aoc stepped out at the Met Gala wearing a dress designed by @aurorajames that looks hella similar to my design,” The Velvet Bandit captioned a photo of Ms Ocasio-Cortez wearing the gown, as well as pictures of her own design, which recently went viral on TikTok, on Instagram. “All of my paste ups are hand-painted, and after my Tax the Rich I put up in Sausalito went viral on TikTok, I began selling stickers and shirts. And low and behold, this dress bears the same likeness as my handwriting.”
In the caption, the designer then expressed her support of both the politician and James, before explaining that she would “love nothing more than to collaborate with them in some way”.
“I’m a full time lunch lady and single mom, which doesn’t leave me much time in my day to try and reach famous people to hit me up,” The Velvet Bandit continued, before asking her followers to “tag/share/tweet/send carrier pigeon” to James and Ms Ocasio-Cortez in an effort to capture their attention. “They need a female street artist working on their team, don’tcha think? It would be an honour. Obviously they have fabulous taste. Together we could take over the world and this sh*thole we’re currently living in could be so much better.”
In the photos shared by the designer, the slogan “tax the rich,” which appears to be written in the same red font as Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s dress, can be seen illustrated across a mask worn by Abraham Lincoln.
In the comments of the post, many of the designer’s followers acknowledged the similarities between the two designs.
“I knew there was something familiar about it!” one person commented, while another said: “You were the first person I thought of when I saw that dress.”
Someone else added: “Does look like it was directly inspired by your work. A shoutout would have at least been nice!”
Not everyone was convinced, however, with one commenter writing: “I love your work, but you didn’t coin the phrase ‘tax the rich.’”
The comment prompted a response from The Velvet Bandit, who explained that she is not “claiming the phrase,” but that the “handwriting is the same”.
The Independent has contacted The Velvet Bandit and Brother Vellies for comment.