Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez Emerging As Unlikely, Egoless Unifying Force Among Democrats

AOC photographed outside the Capitol on January 4, 2019. By Mark Peterson/Redux.

AOC photographed outside the Capitol on January 4, 2019. By Mark Peterson/Redux.

No freshman member of the new House of Representatives has gained more national media attention than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Less than one week after her victory in the November 2018 midterm elections, AOC joined environmental activists in a protest in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Politico published a story that AOC denied, advancing the theory that she was encouraging activists to primary Democratic incumbents in the 2020 elections.

The Republican obsession with Ocasio-Cortez has bordered on full-frontal misogyny, with many Dems reporting that “a cloud” of uncertainty hovered over her. Was she determined to build her own disruptive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez brand? Or was she truly interested in passing collaborative legislation with fellow Democfrats.

Writing for Vanity Fair, Abigail Tracy says that AOC has emerged “as an unlikely unifying force for Democrats — and a surprisingly egoless champion of a new, progressive politics.”

One of her biggest supporters is Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who specifically requested that AOC. be tapped to serve on his committee, hoping that she would ask the questions when others remained mute. “A lot of people said that she might not be a team player, and I have found it to be just the opposite,” Cummings told Tracy. “She has been a breath of fresh air.”

Cummings suggested that disagreement within the ranks is a considerable strength. “It is important that you have people like her—not only on my committee, but in the Congress—to remind folks of who we are, who we are as the Democratic Party, and who we have been for many years,” he explained. “And so, sure, when you do that like Ms. Cortez, you may ruffle a few feathers, but I think that, in the end, it will make us a better and stronger party.”

Cummings gave AOC high praise for her participation during last week’s House Oversight Committee hearing on the cost of prescription drugs. She asked the best set of questions of anybody in her five minutes,” Cummings said, noting that the New York congresswoman stayed for the entire hearing, which stretched beyond the five-hour mark. “It was clear that she had done her homework.”

AOC and her fellow progressives have already jumpstarted a national political discourse, floating a 70 percent marginal tax rate on income over $10 million during her ‘60 Minutes’ interview. 2020 Democratic party hopefuls are talking abuot the proposal, with  59 percent of registered American voters support the plan—including 45 percent of Republicans.

While the dynamic representative’s bold yet publicly undefined Green New Deal initially drew criticism while making waves in the Democratic Party, it has quickly emerged as something of a progressive litmus test for the Democratic field. “She is a Democrat and she is a strong, vocal advocate for our agenda,” aides reported to Tracy. “I think while initially fearful—and maybe even right to be fearful because of some of the early things that were going on—she has now come into her own and realized that she has a lot of power.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swears in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on January 3, 2019. By Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swears in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on January 3, 2019. By Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

Rihanna and LVMH Team UP With Potential To Create Dynamic, People-Centric, Global Luxury Brand

Rihanna at the Costume Institute Gala last year.CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

Rihanna at the Costume Institute Gala last year.CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

Vanessa Friedman asks for The New York Times: “Is Rihanna the Coco Chanel of the 21st century?” Can the multi-hyphenate talent, without an ounce of fashion training, launch a new powerhouse luxury brand?

Bernard Arnault, chief executive of LVMH, thinks so and is in serious talks with Rihanna about launching a new global Fenty brand. Friedman writes that execs at Fenty Beauty and LVMH corporate were astonished over the runaway success of Fenty Beauty, launched in a diverse array of skin tones and with a fan base of 6.3 million Instagram followers. Fenty Beauty was named one of TIME magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017.

Robyn Rihanna Fenty IS a real, live heritage brand with a global reach. No ‘authentic’ story must be created around her image. Rihanna IS the story and she has created it — not with mood boards on Madison Avenues — but with her entire life.

Rihanna comes to the world of luxury brands having made them her canvas for a decade. Luxury fashion has brought her far beyond the limits of the music world. Styled by Mel Ottenberg since 2011, Rihanna has aligned herself with emerging designers and luxury brands like Lanvin and Ginvenchy. Rather than working with a luxury house exclusively, she used these same brands to suit her purposes.

In 2014, she was named fashion icon of the year at the Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, where she appeared in a sheer crystal-spangled Adam Selman dress and matching cap, a white fur wrap strategically draped around her body, setting off a so-called naked trend in red carpet dressing. The next year, at the Met Gala, she wore a giant yellow cape from the Chinese designer Guo Pei, and enshrined her skill at making an entrance.

Not mentioned in Friedman’s piece, but a key component in the forthcoming Rihanna/LVMH alliance is the social conscience of the new luxury brand. Here there is an opportunity to set a very high bar, and all my instincts say that Rihanna and Arnault understand well global politics and human suffering.

With governments in chaos worldwide, but Rihanna anchored deeply in the lives of everyday people, I fully expect a new paradigm to emerge with a Rihanna-led Fenty house that is an activist house, too. Rihanna is deeply embedded in the obligations that women leaders have assumed in creating real change in the world.

If LVMH is equally courageous and up to the task, we might see a new luxury brand DNA that moves beyond the rarified and exclusive vision of Coco Chanel to one that touches people in big and small ways worldwide. If anyone can jumpstart this new 21st century, luxury brand vision, it’s the combined prowess of Rihanna and LVMH’s Bernard Arnault.