For Chi Ossé, New York's youngest City Council member, governing District 36 is more than a job — it's his pride and joy.
So when the 24-year-old was invited to attend his first Met Gala as NYC's Chair of Cultural Affairs, he took the ticket as an opportunity: "I wanted to bring my community to the red carpet," Ossé told me in-between a blur of fittings and meetings.
He and his stylist, Brandon Tan, didn't have to venture far when it came time to secure an ensemble for the politician's Met Gala debut. Encompassing Brooklyn's Crown Heights and Ossé's native Bed-Stuy, District 36 is home to slew of emerging brands, including Sunni Sunni footwear and Johnny Nelson Jewelry, both of which accessorized Ossé for the night.
But Ossé's community extends farther than location: it also includes his Black and queer identities.
To express these parts of his being, Tan and Ossé tapped House of Aama to design the centerpiece of his look, a velvet paisley suit. Pulled from the label's Fall/Winter 2022 collection, "Bloodroot," the ensemble is a powerful ode to the experience of Black Americans living in the Postbellum Period, an era that overlapped with the Gilded Age.
"The Bloodroot collection specifically focuses on the Postbellum South as a time of post-emancipation and upward striving for Black folks seeking dignity and reclamation," mother-daughter design duo Akua Shabaka and Rebecca Henry explained.
Cut with a workwear-inspired silhouette and rendered in paisley, a luxury textile that trade routes introduced to the West during the Victorian Era, the suit represents upward mobility in its fabrication and oppression in its form.
"[It] emphasizes the 'getting to work' mentality of many Black people during the Victorian Era and Gilded Age as they strove for an equitable place in society," Shabaka and Henry elaborated.
House of Aama is based on spirituality, ancestry, and Blackness," Ossé said. "The suit feels regal, queer, and gender-neutral, which is true to who I am."
The cherry on top? Makeup by DD Nicole Smith, the first non-binary model to appear on Project Runway.
As Ossé concluded: "Every part of my look represents different parts of my being."