Fashion Statements Made during Inauguration Ceremony of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
Before any swearing in or speeches made on Inauguration Day, the clothes spoke. Beginning on the eve of the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, then-President-Elect Joseph R. Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden, and then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Douglas Emhoff began telegraphing their messages with their outfits, the bigger statements, as usual, emanating from the women.
For a late afternoon vigil to honor the 400,000 American lives lost to Covid-19 on Tuesday, Dr. Biden and Vice President Harris chose to wear emerging American designers, the former clad in a full violet look by Jonathan Cohen Studio, the latter in a camel coat classically cut but for the most subtle of novelty in the gentle wave of the back flap by Pyer Moss’s Kerby Jean-Raymond. Both women were dressed for the occasion, which is to say they were dressed up and appropriately so for their respective roles and personal styles.
Cohen and Jean-Raymond are two young, New York City-based designers whose names are well known within the American fashion industry, famous for their unquenchable thirst for new talent, yet they are far from household names. Donning garments by such designers for such a momentous occasion signals support of homegrown design, and could be an indication that Dr. Biden and Harris are open to inheriting Michelle Obama’s fashion mantle of support for the American designers big and small. At least to some degree.
The message carried through to Wednesday’s main event when Dr. Biden appeared in an ocean blue overcoat and matching dress by the small New York-based label Markarian, led by the designer Alexandra O’Neill. Vice President Harris wore a tailored coat and matching dress in a brilliant shade of purple as well as her signature pearls, this time designed by Puerto Rican designer Wilfredo Rosado, and heels by the Los Angeles designer Sergio Hudson by another New Yorker, the 27-year-old designer Christopher John Rogers.
On an inauguration day unlike any other in the 232 years since the custom began, the clothes, just like everything else incorporated into the ceremony, were chosen carefully. No less an emblem of the American dream than Ralph Lauren dressed President Biden and Emhoff.
O’Neill is a young female designer, who, according to a press release from the brand, customized the wool tweed coat with crystal and velvet trim, matching dress and face mask, in a shade of blue chosen “to signify trust, confidence, and stability.” It was feminine and elegant, pretty but not too dainty, just like Dr. Biden.
Still, the look was overshadowed by Vice President Harris. How could it not have been? The historic nature of her role and her commanding, dutiful presence demanded it.
She chose to wear strong, tailored, confident pieces by Jean-Raymond and Rogers. They weren’t exactly unpredictable. Rumors had been circulating for weeks that Harris was planning to wear clothes by Black designers and Jean-Raymond and Rogers are two of the most talked-about names on what is sadly an all-too-short list.
But things are changing. Just look at Harris American hope incarnate.