Women make democratic fashion statement on Inauguration Day

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Graphic by Alfred Perez.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Some of the most influential women in the nation gathered outside the U.S. Capitol today for President Biden and Vice President Harris’ inauguration and expressed the message that democracy and unity are in vogue.

The theme of Inauguration Day was “America United,” which reflects the new administration’s mission to mend the country amid the pandemic and continued political division.

The women attendees made sartorial statements to symbolize the country’s new path forward using monochromatic motifs, clean lines and symbolism. Purple was a central theme, symbolizing the coalescence of blue and red, while many chose various shades of blue to represent democracy. 

Vice President Kamala Harris 

The Vice President’s inaugural outfit included an indigo coat by Christopher John Rogers. Rogers is an emerging American designer who dressed former First Lady Michelle Obama and the 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner. In 2020, Rogers said, “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.”

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden 

Dr. Biden wore a sparkle-spangled periwinkle tweed coat and dress from Markarian. The outfit is an eco-conscious choice that is part of the label’s sustainable repertoire. Each piece is made-to-order, which eliminates waste. 

President Biden’s inauguration was the First Lady’s third time at her husband’s side while he was sworn-in. Dr. Biden began her inaugural fashion run on the right foot in 2008 when she wore a pair of knee-high boots at former President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Michelle Obama

The former first lady wore an oxblood coat and paintsuit by Sergio Hudson and was one of the only attendees to wear red. Vogue writer Michelle Ruiz describes the pants as “regal palazzo.” Hudson is an L.A.-based Black designer who says his garments are carefully created to “exude power and sexiness, while maintaining elegance and class.”

Lady Gaga

The performer and activist made a statement with a gilded bird brooch that some say is a bird holding an olive branch but actually has a more subversive message. The brooch is a Mockingjay from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games

Mockingjay is the final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy and centers on the book’s protagonist’s mission to unify the divided districts of Panem as a form of rebellion against an existing tyrannical government. 

Jennifer Lopez

J. Lo’s performance of “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful” (with an artful insertion of her own “Let’s Get Loud” lyrics) shone while the multi-talented artist was dressed head-to-toe in pearl-shade Chanel, possibly a nod to suffragette white. Like Dr. Biden and Michelle Obama, J.Lo opted for a long tweed coat, and accessorized with one of Vice President Harris’ go-to pearl jewelry. 

Biden granddaughters

Naomi, Finnegan, Maisy and Natalie Biden evoked the band Haim in coordinated monochromatic coats and face masks in ivory, camel, black and blush.

Ella Emhoff  

Vice President Harris’ stepdaughter was declared the winner of the inaugural fashion show for wearing a striking tweed coat by Miu Miu, which featured yellow and orange embellishments over an eggplant Batsheva dress. 

Designer Batsheva Hay plays with American femininity by reinventing historical looks that range from Victorian and pioneer, to housewife and hippie, to reappropriate formerly antiquated ideas of womanhood into symbols of strength. Hay says she uses symbolic elements of restraint and repression in her garments’ high collars and billowy sleeves to send modern messages.

Amanda Gorman

The inaugural poet wrote and recited “The Hill We Climb” wearing a Prada ensemble that featured a canary-colored coat, eggshell poplin shirt and leather pencil skirt. Gorman accessorized her outfit with black pumps, a fire engine red headband and earrings given to her by Oprah.

“I am weaving my own type of symbolism into my outfit, and it’s really special and important to me to deliver these nuggets of information and sentimentality as I’m reciting the poem,” Gorman told Vogue. “I’m also wearing a yellow coat, which is my own nod to Dr. Jill Biden, who was the one who recommended me in the first place, and I’m so honored by that. She said, ‘I saw this video of you and you were wearing yellow and I loved it.'”

Another element of symbolism Gorman wore is a caged bird ring, a nod to fellow poet Maya Angelou.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

The former first lady, presidential candidate and U.S. Secretary of State wore a plum pantsuit, reminiscent of the purple pantsuit she wore in 2016 to give her concession speech. The ensemble joins Clinton’s notorious “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuit.”

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