The Runway Rundown

U-S- President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, wearing Gabriela Hearst, on inauguration evening. Photo: @CFDA/Twitter

The Inside Details of Inauguration Fashion


The inaugurations of the U.S. presidents have always seen a parade of fashion throughout the historic event, and Joe Biden’s inauguration as 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20 was no different, with an added necessary accessory not seen in the past iterations of the event: masks.

The flower details on Hearst’s design for Biden. Photo: @gabrielahearst/Instagram

As coronavirus still rears its ugly head around the world, this year’s swearing in ceremony had a different tone since socially distanced seating and a reduced audience limited the event’s grandiosity, leaving the attendees’ fashion choices one of the main focal points of the day, particularly about the messages they convey.

First Lady Jill Biden notably chose an American designer for the evening portion of her husband’s inauguration, choosing a beautiful white coat embroidered with flowers, custom made by Gabriela Hearst. Every state flower from all 50 of the U.S. states, plus Washington D.C., was hand-stitched into the coat as a tribute to the nation. 

Hearst, who was born in Uruguay and is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was tapped to be the head of French luxury fashion house Chloé last December, several years after Chloé’s parent company. LVMH. invested in Hearst’s eponymous line, that is well known for its sustainability efforts.

Barack and Michelle Obama, wearing Sergio Hudson, at the inauguration. Photo: @promisedlandmag/Twitter

“The message of Unity is the main inspiration for the creation of the Ensemble,” Hearst said on Instagram about her design. “Unity makes strength and it is needed for the road ahead.”

Hearst also revealed a hidden detail within the coat, adding even more depth to its design.

“Inside of the coat, representing the lifelong calling and service of Dr. Biden as an educator, is a hand embroidery on the lining with a quote from Founding Father Benjamin Franklin: ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.'”

American designer Sergio Hudson created a plum pantsuit for former First Lady Michelle Obama for the day’s event, and also dressed Vice President Kamala Harris for the evening portion of the affair, creating a long black number paired with a tuxedo-esque overcoat for the country’s first female, African-American and Asian-American vice president.

Kamala Harris in a purple coat by Christopher John Rogers. Photo: @everythingGA/Twitter

“It is amazing to grow up as the descendant of slaves and to be able to dress the vice president of the United States,” Hudson told Time about the opportunity. “In the same country that used to enslave us, now we have a black vice president.”

Purple was a common color theme throughout the week’s events, with Harris, Biden, Obama and even former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton choosing to don the shade, which is representative of bi-partisanship, a symbolic meeting in the middle between the blue and red, the left and right, conveying a message of togetherness while the new administration is ushered in.

Other attendees showed off their fashion prowess, with Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman donning a Prada look for the occasion, consisting of a bold red headband and banana-peel yellow floor length coat. Ella Emhoff, Harris’s daughter-in-law, wore a checked outfit from Prada’s little sister brand Miu Miu, sparking admiration across social networks for her bold choice.

Ella Emhoff wearing Miu Miu. Photo: @kirstenking_/Twitter

Though inauguration attire has always had its staples of clean lines and long coats, specific choices like a designer’s origin or a specific color choice convey a statement to the country on what’s to come.

This year’s choices showed commitment to the future of the United States, uniting together a divided country, and celebrating the minorities and immigrants who make America, America.

If the inauguration fashion is any indication, Biden’s administration will bring on an era of peace and inclusivity, something the United States has been missing for quite some time.

…Jan 26, 2021

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