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IN PHOTOS: American design gets spotlight at Biden-Harris inauguration

It is, admittedly, strange to be talking about silhouettes, patterns, and style inspos at the Capitol when, just a few days back, pro-Trump rioters overtook the halls of the United States Congress in a feeble attempt to change the outcome of the presidential elections.

Order still managed to prevail, with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris taking their oaths against a backdrop of "overwhelming security measures," and hope in America.

Still, it's hard not to pay attention, particularly when the outfits reflect not just the individuals but the promises the Biden administration is bringing to the White House. To borrow Teen Vogue's words, "Isn't it nice to talk about fashion in politics again?"

The Bidens

Mr President himself wore an understated Ralph Lauren suit, which was made under Purple Label, the American brand's bespoke line. While Purple Label is typically made in Italy, the brand also taps Rochester Tailored Clothing factory for rush pieces. Biden's clothes, reported fashion site Women's Wear Daily, were finished at Rochester the same week as the inauguration. 

THE BIDENS. US President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill arrive for his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, US, on January 20, 2021.

File photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Dr Jill Biden wore an aquamarine outfit (and matching face mask) by Alexandra O'Neill, who owns the relatively new and little-known brand Markarian. The Biden grandchildren also wore monochromatic looks with matching face masks to the inauguration. Later, in the evening, Natalie and Finnegan Biden wore Markarian cocktail dresses, while Maisy Biden wore a Rodarte dress with Nike sneakers. 

FAMILY. US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden pose with their family in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the "Celebrating America" event at the Lincoln Memorial after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States in Washington, US, on January 20, 2021.

File photo by Joshua Roberts/Pool/Reuters

The First Lady changed into a white outfit by Uruguayan-born, New York-based Gabriela Hearst, who is also creative director of French luxury fashion house Chloe. Hearst has been a champion for sustainability in the fashion industry. 

FIRST COUPLE. US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch fireworks from the White House after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, US, on January 20, 2021.

File photo by Tom Brenner/Reuters

Kamala Harris and the Emhoffs

Kamala Harris made history 3-fold as the first woman, first Black, and first South Asian Vice President of the United States. Of course, there's no better way to mark the occasion than by wearing pieces by two young Black designers – Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson.

HISTORIC. Kamala Harris is sworn in as US vice president as her spouse Doug Emhoff holds a Bible during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, US, on January 20, 2021.

File photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The night prior, Madam Vice President wore a camel Pyer Moss coat. Refinery 29, in a story, pointed out that Pyer Moss owner Kerby Jean-Raymond was among the first to cease operations and convert their space into a donation point for personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. 

TOGETHER. US President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff stand in front of the Washington Monument ahead of Biden's remarks in Washington, US, on January 19, 2021.

File photo by Tom Brenner/Reuters

Harris' husband, the US' first Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, also wore Ralph Lauren for the inauguration. But it was his daughter's sartorial choices that got observers talking. 

FAMILY. US Vice President Kamala Harris embrace her great-niece Amara Ajagu as she greets members of her family during the Inauguration Day parade for US President Joe Biden, in Washington, US, on January 20, 2021.

File photo by Erin Scott/Reuters

APPLAUSE. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris applauds as US President-elect Joe Biden arrives for his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, US, on January 20, 2021.

File photo by Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Ella Emhoff, Harris' stepdaughter, wore a Miu Miu statement coat with a white lace collar. Underneath, she wore a dress by Batsheva Hay. Ella, 21, is a designer herself and is a senior at Parsons. 

So… what? 

As many publications before us have pointed out, fashion is not just about clothes. In daily life and especially during historic events such as inaugurations, one's choice of clothing – from the color of the garments to the designers and seamstresses who made them, speak a lot about a person's personality and intention.

COLORS. US President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, her husband Doug Emhoff, and US Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) arrive ahead of the inauguration of Biden, in Washington, US, on January 20, 2021.

File photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

All white outfits, for instance, are often nods to the suffragette movement (members of activist women's organizations who fought – and won – the right to vote). Purple, too, harkens to the suffragette movement (white, purple, and green were its colors), although it can also be seen as a symbol of bipartisanship (when you mix red and blue – the colors of the Republican and Democratic parties – you get purple). 

Further, who you wear to huge events like an inauguration – the live feed of which was streamed across the US and the world, and stills of which are part of history forever – signifies who you support. Former first lady Melania Trump, for instance, had been criticized (albeit sparingly) for picking European brands over American ones during her husband's presidency – which she blames the media for. 

That Jill Biden and Harris chose lesser-known designers speak of an intention to shine the spotlight on smaller brands and small businesses. It's "America First," but in a more sincere and decidedly not sinister form.

These choices have not gone unnoticed and everyone – from the US and beyond – will certainly be watching. – Rappler.com

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