With a dramatically reduced crowd, beefed-up security, and a pandemic-era sense of solemnity, the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris was far from traditional. But as one of the largest-scale events to happen in Washington, D.C., since the pandemic began, it was also a prime opportunity for displays of fashion diplomacy, from the designers chosen by Harris and First Lady Jill Biden to the symbolic accessories worn by the lawmakers in attendance. Ahead, the must-see looks and moments from the first day of the Biden administration.
Joe Biden and Jill Biden
For a church service at St. Matthew on inauguration morning, Joe Biden wore a custom blue suit by iconic American designer Ralph Lauren, who made the suit, tie, and overcoat in the same fabric as his mask.
Original sketch of Jill Biden’s Markarian coat and dress.
Courtesy of Markarian.
Incoming First Lady Jill Biden wore an ocean blue wool tweed coat and dress by Alexandra O’Neill, who founded her label Markarian in 2017. The label is sustainability-minded, with all clothing made-to-order to reduce waste, and is named for “a particularly radiant grouping of galaxies.” Markarian has also been worn by the likes of Kerry Washington, Laura Dern, Lizzo, and other celebrities.
Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff
At St. Matthew, history’s first second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, also wore Ralph Lauren. The incoming vice president wore a purple coat by Christopher John Rogers, the up-and-coming American fashion designer who told Vanity Fair last year, “The people who initially reached out to me for interviews and pulled my stuff and actually used it were Black women. Black women understood why I didn’t shy away from color.” Harris, of course, will become the first Black woman to serve as vice president, as well as the first person of Asian descent.
— NBC 10 WJAR (@NBC10) January 20, 2021
Attending in her capacity as a former First Lady, Clinton wore purple, the color she also wore during her concession speech after losing the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump. It is a color historically associated with nobility, an original color favored by the suffragettes, and perhaps most notably, a metaphor for bipartisanship—red and blue together.
📷: ANI pic.twitter.com/xyJqcIuLuV
— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18News) January 20, 2021
Clinton was not the only former First Lady striking a bipartisan tone— Michelle Obama wore a purple coat as well.
Representative Barbara Lee
— Katie Glueck (@katieglueck) January 20, 2021
In this selfie shared by New York Times reporter Katie Glueck, Lee—a California Democrat, and close ally of Harris’s—displayed a pearl necklace that once belonged to Shirley Chisholm, the congresswoman became the first Black woman to run for president in 1972. Harris is also fond of wearing pearls, partly due to the historical connection to her historically Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
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