Fashion News Alert: Alexandra Ocasio Cortez’s Met Gala Gown, Nicki Minaj Opted out of the 2021 Met Gala Due to Vaccination Requirements, Sotheby’s Black Jewelry Designer Exhibit, and Dapper Dan Collaborates with Pepsi

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Contrary to the fashion rumor mill, the 2021 Met Gala turned out to be an overwhelming success. Many wagging tongues assumed that many celebrities would not be in attendance to due to COVID-19 Delta variant scares. That was not the case, this year’s Met Gala red carpet was not packed to the brim with some of our favorite celebrities, there was a strong contingent of Tokyo Olympic medalists on the red carpet as well.

That said, Nicki Minaj was one celeb who opted out of attending this year’s Met Gala. Minaj was outraged that there was a strict COVID-19 vaccination requirement for attending this year’s Met Gala. And her outrage caused her to post several incendiary rants on social media.

In one Twitter post Minaj said, “They want you to get vaccinated for the Met. if I get vaccinated it won’t for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research. I’m working on that now. In the meantime, my loves, be safe. Wear the mask with 2 strings that grips your head & face. Not that loose one.”

In other social media rants, Minaj stated that she would rather be home with her child and that her friend Drake got COVID, even though he was vaccinated.  It appears that Minaj is not an anti-vaccine, but that she is still doing research. Minaj has not appeared in public for over a year.

Hmm, more research, really?

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The cost of political controversy

There were lots of bold, dramatic, eye-catching garments at the 2021 Met Gala, but, no other celebrity or public official caused more controversy than New York Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s white wool gown that was emblazoned with a “Tax the Rich” in red on the back of the gown.

This was Ocasio-Cortez’s first appearance at the Met Gala. Though she was invited in 2019, she chose not to attend, And, in 2020, the Met Gala was cancelled due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many praised Ocasio-Cortez for her brave political statement, a statement that was carefully planned as Democrats struggle to get President Biden’s Infrastructure passed. (Biden’s infrastructure bill comes with a $4.5 billion costs and raises taxes on wealthy individuals.)Still,  there were many critics, including conservatives and some liberals, who thought that Ocasio-Cortez’s political statement was out of place at the 2021 Met Gala. 

The conservative critics are the usual cast of characters such as Donald Trump, Jr., who called Ocasio-Cortez a fraud for calling for taxing the rich “while she’s hanging out with a bunch of wealthy leftwing elites.” Still there were some progressive critics like Briahna Gray, the former national press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2020 campaign and the co-host of the “Bad Faith” podcast who said that Ocasio-Cortez is “held to a unique standard exactly because people expect more of her.”

According to The New York Times, other progressives like John Ganz, a columnist for, who described himself as a supporter who at other times has viewed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez as a “beacon of hope,” felt that “The Met Gala is an event best shunned by sincere socialists.”  Other progressives, like former New York City mayoral candidate Mara Wiley, supported Ocasio-Cortez decision to attend the Met Gala.

“We turn everything into a purity contest,” Ms. Wiley said, as reported in The New York Times. “Politics shouldn’t be about purity. She did the right thing by not avoiding it, by saying this is part of who we are, and let’s have a conversation that includes the Met Gala.”

Coincidentally, Ocasio-Cortez was seated at Anna Wintour’s table. Other politicians who attended included Mayor Bill de Blasio, Scott Stringer, and Carolyn Maloney.

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Sotheby embraces Black jewelry designers

This Friday, Sotheby hosted its first exhibit of exclusively black jewelry designers. The exhibit, Brilliant & Black: A Jewelry Renaissance, will feature 21 black jewelry designers and will open to the public on September 26, followed by a sale that runs in person and online until Oct. 10.

The exhibit will feature 63 works with jewelry designs by Art Smith, Harwell Godfrey, Shola Branson, Winifred Mason Chenet, Lorraine West, Marei New York, Mateo New York, Lola Fenhirst, Jariet Oloyé, Maggi Simpkins, and Shola Branson, and others. The exhibit will showcase a variety of styles with prices ranging up to a $1 million dollars.

The initiative was pioneered by Black jewelry author, editor, and stylist Melanie Grant, following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. She had a goal to spotlight talented Black designers with a focus on one-of-a-kind pieces.

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Dapper Dan collaborates with Pepsi

Dapper Dan continues to evolve his brand by collaborating with Pepsi on Pepsi’s “Made for Football Watching” NFL campaign. Dapper Dan partners with Pepsi to create the capsule collection, Pepsi x Dapper Dan Capsule Collection which was made available to consumers during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) on September 9.

“I’ve been bringing luxury fashion to Harlem for 35 years and let me tell you, you don’t always see a true authentic collaboration come to life the way it did here with Pepsi, and right in time for the football season and New York Fashion Week at that,” said Dapper Dan, as reported in  “This capsule collection is equally inspired by the Pepsi brand, football fans, and my one-of-a-kind looks. Fashion and football have never come together like this before.”

“While Pepsi has always had deep roots in pop culture and football, we have never brought it all together like we have with The Pepsi x Dapper Dan Football Watching Capsule Collection,” said Todd Kaplan, VP of marketing at Pepsi.

“Dapper Dan’s unique style of merging luxury fashion and streetwear is so bold and unapologetic—just like the Pepsi brand—so we thought he was the perfect partner to blend his visionary taste in streetwear with football fandom in the unique way only he can do.”

The collection features fashion-forward football-watching pieces including a lounger, hoodie, bucket hat, and custom-patterned Pepsi cans to ensure fans are fitted and geared up for every touchdown, sack and fumble. Visit to view the full collection.

—William S. Gooch

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