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The designers of choice behind the inauguration outfits and what they might signal

Amy de Klerk
·3 min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

Although there are of course far more important matters to be discussed around today’s historic US inauguration, what politicians, and their spouses, wear, matters.

As Michelle Obama eloquently said on her Becoming book tour: “Fashion for a woman predominates how people view you. That’s not right, but it’s true.”

“That’s when fashion isn’t just fashion, it’s how you turn it into your tool rather than being a victim of it. So it was, OK, let’s embrace the fact people are looking at my shoes and not just highlight me and the clothes but who we wanted to be as an administration — forward-thinking, embracing youth, embracing diversity.”

And, this is exactly what Kamala Harris and Jill Biden are doing with their outfit choices during this historic moment, making the decision to draw attention to fashion designers that they deem worthy of giving such a momentous platform.

Both women chose to highlight immigrant American designers at the election celebrations in November, with Harris wearing a white suit by Carolina Herrera and Biden opting for Oscar de la Renta.

Photo credit: Kamala Harris in Carolina Herrera and Jill Biden in Oscar de la Renta - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kamala Harris in Carolina Herrera and Jill Biden in Oscar de la Renta - Getty Images

Yesterday, when the pair attended a memorial service for the victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, both chose to draw attention to young, up-and-coming fashion talent in the form of Pyer Moss and Jonathan Cohen. And today, as Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris becomes the first ever female Vice President of the United States, the women’s fashion choices continue to send a message.

Photo credit: Kamala Harris in Pyer Moss - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kamala Harris in Pyer Moss - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jill Biden wearing Jonathan Cohen - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jill Biden wearing Jonathan Cohen - Getty Images

Jill Biden made the decision to wear NYC-based designer Alexandra O'Neill of Markarian, a young American creative who is just starting out. Meanwhile, Harris chose to wear a coat by Christopher John Rogers, another bright young American fashion talent from a minority background, for the biggest political moment of her career.

Photo credit: Kamala Harris in Christopher John Rogers and Jill Biden in Markarian - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kamala Harris in Christopher John Rogers and Jill Biden in Markarian - Getty Images

And it is not just the designers that have been chosen that are noteworthy, but the choice of colours, too.

Harris’ suit at the victory party was white for a reason. The colour has long been held as one which represents the fight for women's suffrage – and has been used by various female activists and politicians at key moments to subtly, or overtly, make this statement. Harris' decision to wear top-to-toe white was likely no coincidence and added to this historic moment in the fight for women's equality as she took to the stage as the first ever female Vice President-elect of the United States.

Her choice of purple on the inauguration day speaks to unity, with the hue traditionally considered a bipartisan colour (particularly in US politics; the blending together of red and blue) - a significant, peaceful choice given that much of the American people seem politically more divided than ever. Joe Biden also joined his vice president in her unified stance, opting for a brand that has a long history of non-partisan dressing in the form of Ralph Lauren – a designer who has famously dressed everyone from Melania Trump to Michelle Obama and George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, Jill Biden’s decision to opt for a bright, optimistic blue was, according to designer O'Neill, about sending a message of "trust, confidence, and stability". Here's to four years of values that reflect the same.

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