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How Kamala Harris and Dr. Jill Biden Are Spotlighting Young Designers on Inauguration Day 2021

Samantha Schnurr
·2 min read
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As a new presidential term begins, Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris and First Lady-Elect Dr. Jill Biden are shining a sartorial spotlight on fashion's next generation.

With the nation's eyes on the incoming president, first lady, vice president and second gentleman on Inauguration Day, the clothes worn by America's new slate of leaders will garner some of its own attention. As history has shown, the outfits chosen for the milestone day often carry subtle, but purposeful messages, from the colors of the garments to the designers responsible for them. That was certainly the case on Jan. 20 as Harris and Biden stepped out in their colorful ensembles—Kamala in purple and Jill in blue—for a day that will live forever in the history books.

On Wednesday morning, the soon-to-be first lady appeared in a custom coat and dress set by Markarian, the New York City-based womenswear label founded by Alexandra O'Neill in 2017. Made of ocean blue-colored wool tweed, the coat is accented with a blue velvet collar and cuffs. Underneath, Biden's tapered dress features a chiffon bodice and scalloped skirt with Swarovski pearls and crystals embellishing the neckline in a floral pattern.

Statement-Making Presidential Inauguration Fashion Over the Years

As for the color of the look, blue was chosen "to signify trust, confidence, and stability," Markarian shared in a press release. According to the brand, the outfit was made by a small team in New York City's Garment center before the designer finished it by hand herself in her West Village studio. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Jill also donned a matching silk face mask by the brand and, keeping warm outside on the January day, also bundled up with blue gloves.

President-elect Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, Doug Emhoff, 2021 Presidential Inauguration
President-elect Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, Doug Emhoff, 2021 Presidential Inauguration

Kamala—who is set to make history as the first female vice president, first Black vice president and first vice president of South Asian descent—opted to sport Black American designers Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson, an undeniable celebration of Black creators on the monumental day.

Jill Biden sketch
Jill Biden sketch

In regard to the color of the Rogers coat and Hudson dress, it is believed to be a possible nod to bipartisanship as purple is a mix of blue and red. She completed the look with a pearl necklace by Wilfredo Rosado, a recurring accessory for the soon-to-be vice president and a symbol of her Alpha Kappa Alpha sisterhood.

President-Elect Joe Biden and Second Gentleman-Elect Doug Emhoff both put on suits by Ralph Lauren, a longtime classic American designer and one who has often dressed White House members of both political parties.

Now, as these outfits swiftly become synonymous with a day that will live forever in American history, the designers behind them are facing a life-changing moment, too. As Markarian shared in a press release, "Alexandra is incredibly humbled to be a small part of such a historic moment."