Last night’s presidential inauguration was, to say the least, spectacularly emotional. As President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were officially sworn in, America sighed a collective expel of relief. It really felt like with this new administration came a new dawn; one that pledges to unify a nation. While Covid-19 prevented the 46th inauguration from being the party so many had wanted and needed it to be, the pandemic didn’t stop the celebration from spreading far beyond Pennsylvania Avenue.
Over the past four years, we have come to expect a number of things from Trump’s presidency – belligerence, narcissism, intolerance – and in my personal opinion, a complete and utter lack of fashion. While Melania can’t be blamed entirely for Washington’s style slump, she certainly wore some provoking pieces, most memorably that Zara coat with “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” emblazoned across the back. However, as the sun broke out over the Capitol building, we saw a much-needed return of considered style to Washington D.C., one that has been sorely missed.
With the pandemic forcing the 1,000 high-profile attendants to wear masks obscuring their faces and expressions, it really was down to the clothes to do the talking. And talk they did.
Vice President Kamala Harris chose to wear young Black designer Christopher John Rogers for her swearing in as the first female Vice President. Tailored, sharp and bold, Harris paired the purple dress coat with her signature pearls (these ones from Puerto Rican jeweller Wilfredo Rosado).
President Joe Biden was even in on the occasion, sporting Ralph Lauren for his big day. A Bronx-born designer who has all encompassed what it means to live the American dream. Biden looked reassuringly classic, comfortable and at ease in his wardrobe and his new role.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden stunned in a teal ensemble by sustainably focussed label, Markarian, matching her mask and her gloves to this considered take on Democratic blue.
We can’t discuss political fashion without Michelle Obama, who continued the high-octane glamour with a flawless look plum purple look from Sergio Hudson, a Black LA-based designer who has previously dressed Beyoncé and Rihanna. In fact, it was double whammy for Hudson as Harris later wore a floor length sequin cocktail dress and coat by the designer.
The star of the sartorial show (and maybe the whole show) was surely the youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman. Gorman, who shone bright over the entire ceremony in yellow, offset her look with a red Prada headband that sat like a crown. Her stirring worlds were bolstered by youthful colours full of energy and hope.
The celebrities brought their own distinct flairs to the ceremony; Lady Gaga in jaw-dropping Schiaparelli, J Lo cleansing the colour pallet in crisp white Chanel, a colour echoed later in the evening by Katy Perry’s moving ‘Firework’ performance.
However, there was one colour that was the most significant of the day, that spoke the loudest over all the others, and that was purple. With Vice-President Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton choosing this symbolic hue for the inauguration it deliberately set the tone for the days to come. Purple, the colour traditionally associated with power and nobility was given a new lease of life in 1913 when it was adopted by the Suffragettes. It became a colour associated with womanhood, solidarity and freedom.
Now, it takes on new meaning once more. A product of red and blue, purple could even signify bi-partisan unity, finally a leadership that is ready and willing to bring together a nation of divided people with a renewed sense of hope.
And just like that, Washington D.C. is back in fashion business.