The New Colors Embracing the White House
an article by Allison Li
Dear Asian Youth,
Yes. Let’s talk about it. The monochrome moment at Biden’s inauguration from the respective ladies. First, Vice President Kamala Harris. Harris wore a beautiful purple dress, a nod to Shirley Chisholm who ran for president in 1972, and Harris’s sorority sisters, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Next, former first lady, Michelle Obama, was decked head to toe in a plum-burgundy turtleneck sweater, bootcut pants, and a structured coat, finishing it off with one of Sergio Hudson’s handmade leather belts. Finally, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden dawned a blue wool-tweed dress with a Swarovski pearl neckline and a chiffon skirt, paired with a complementary blue mask. Later that night, during the inaugural ball, she wore a cashmere coat embroidered with flowers representing every state and territory, which also featured a quote from Benjamin Franklin “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”, all designed by Gabriela Hearst.
There is no doubt that these ensembles are not only fashion statements, but also setting the stage for America. The choice of colors and why they have become so iconic have everything to do with the meanings and hopes they carry.
In addition to the homage to Harris’s sorority and Chisholm, the color purple is a nod to the early 20th Century women’s suffrage movement, royalty, sophistication, and creativity. Christopher John Rogers II, Louisiana-based designer, noted he wanted the piece to “craft something that radiated confidence and a personal sense of style while also remaining classic, comfortable, and precisely tailored”. For such a historic moment, the dress captured the audience and stood out amongst the crowd with its popping color. Finishing off, she wore numerous pearl and diamond pieces of jewelry, with designers ranging from Chanel to Breguet, including a Wilfredo Rosado elliptical link chain necklace– crafted of Akoya pearls, diamonds and yellow gold.
Next is Michelle Obama. Hudson, who also designed Vice President Harris’s shoes for the inaugural day, decked the former First lady in a powerful yet elegant look, topped off with her wavy, voluminous hair. The dark red signifies willpower, leadership and courage — all things she had hoped to convey in support of Harris. Miranda Koop, Obama’s stylist, wrote “What I want to convey most, though, is that this particular outfit is about the woman wearing it more than anything… She has taken a look at the rule book and turned the page. She leads, she inspires and she slays”. Koop also noted that she and Hudson knew they wanted Obama in pants, noting their flexibility, mobility, and practicality. Combined, it commanded power and attention in a classy and dynamic manner, capturing the eyes of many.
In essence, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s outfit can be best described as one to “signify trust, confidence, and stability”, as a representative for designer Markarian noted. Her custom ocean-blue dress and overcoat were dressed with a dark-blue velvet collar and cuffs added a classic flair to her coat. Following the inauguration, the internet linked her to Cinderella and her flowy blue ball gown. Historically, the shade of blue is known for health, healing, tranquility, understanding, perhaps a way of signifying to the public the control and calmness the Biden administration would address the COVID-19 pandemic. She later changed into a white coat and had embroidered state flowers placed along the organza bodice and sleeves. The Delaware state flower was positioned purposefully above Biden’s heart. Underneath was a sheer shouldered gown carrying the motif of the state flowers along the neckline and sleeves. The white symbolizes purity and female solidarity, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had done earlier that month.
In essence, the unique messages they conveyed, all the women represented their dreams and aspirations for the new administration and what it would bring. Each made a unique statement, and set a precedent for what they would provide to the American table, whether it be political or moral.
– Allison Li
Cover Photo Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer