Yesterday, Joe Biden was sworn in as the American President, with Kamala Harris as Vice President, during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration ceremony. The inauguration was a celebratory occasion, with performances from Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, and Biden speaking about hope and unity.
For the swearing-in ceremony and all the events around it, politicians and celebrities used fashion as a powerful tool. So much can be conveyed through clothes; it was an opportunity to herald a new era and showcase the hope for a united America.
Here are all the powerful, statement-making looks that celebrities and politicians wore to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration ceremony.
The evening before getting sworn in, Harris, Biden, and their partners attended a memorial for those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Harris wore a beige coat by designer Kerby-Jean Raymond, of label Pyer Moss. Throughout the inauguration events, Harris only wore pieces by Black designers – significant because she is the first Black and Indian-American woman to be Vice President. Raymond was also a powerful choice because he turned his New York office into a PPE donation center and set up a fund to support “minority and women-owned small creative businesses who are currently in distress”.
For the swearing-in ceremony, Harris wore a purple coat and dress by Christopher John Rogers, a Black designer based in New York. His designs have previously been worn by Zendaya and Tracee Ellis Ross, and he’s known for bright colors, bold silhouettes, and high glamour. The color purple is likely a nod to the colors of the US suffragette movement: purple, white, and gold.
Dr. Jill Biden
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden wore a bright teal ensemble for the inauguration, complete with a matching face mask. Instead of choosing a mainstream, established designer, Biden wore up-and-coming label Markarian. Founded in 2017 by Alexandra O’Neill, Markarian has dressed the likes of Kerry Washington and Laura Dern.
Biden then changed into a white coat and dress by Uruguayan-American designer Gabriela Hearst. The outfit was embroidered with flowers, which New York Times fashion director Vanessa Friedman noted reflected “all of the state flowers of the United States and territories and the District of Columbia”.
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Biden wore a Ralph Lauren suit, a brand that very much matches his values. An all-American brand, Ralph Lauren often incorporates the national flag into its designs and has dressed team USA for the Olympics.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama attended the inauguration in a jaw-droppingly chic outfit. With wide-legged trousers, a statement belt, and a long coat, Obama’s plum ensemble was also designed by Sergio Hudson.
Lady Gaga sang the national anthem in suitably dramatic attire. Her giant Schiaparelli gown featured a red skirt and navy jacket – reminiscent of the American flag – and had a golden brooch attached, which Gaga explained on Twitter was “a dove carrying an olive branch. May we all make peace with each other.”
Harris’ stepdaughter Ella Emhoff was one of the breakout fashion stars of the event. A student at the Parsons School of Design, Emhoff wore an embellished Miu Miu coat and a burgundy Batsheva dress. The look was youthful and stylish, with some seeing the statement collar as a nod to late Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Jennifer Lopez made a statement by wearing head-to-toe monochrome during her inauguration performance. Lopez’s head-turning white Chanel outfit — a long white coat, a ruffled blouse, and shimmering pants — was a nod to the suffragette movement.