What Inauguration Said About American Fashion Today

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The visual impression left by an inauguration ceremony is generally defined by its scale: hundreds of thousands of people crowding the National Mall, explosive military parades, a glitzy line-up of pop star performers. But as Joe Biden was sworn in as president amid a pandemic — two weeks after a nationwide terror siege on the same building that served as the backdrop for the day’s proceedings — the show was understandably more low-key.

So where did audiences look for moments of visual interest? With the usual Inauguration Day circus stripped down to the bare essentials, it was fashion that found itself under the microscope, sparking some of the hottest conversations on social media.

It has a strange meaning. Over the past year, events that would typically serve as jaw-dropping red carpet moments to entertain the most avid fashion obsessives — and attract more fair-weather devotees, too — have been rare. Yes, it’s very low on the list of urgent priorities for an administration urgently faced with the fight against recession, systemic racism, social inequality and mass unemployment, but a carefully considered choice of clothing can still offer a glow of something uplifting.

On Inauguration Day, there was, among other things, a return to the brand of “fashion diplomacy” that has become Michelle Obama’s calling card; instead of allying himself with a single designer, as with the first ladies of decades past, Obama deftly moved between brands that best represented either his goals for each event or the United States as a whole when traveling internationally. . For the Bidens’ first public outing as the first couple, this approach went along more traditional lines: President Joe Biden wore a gray wool overcoat over a meticulously cut single-breasted navy Ralph Lauren suit, marking a a clean break from the comically sloppy tailoring of Trump’s suits before him.

Dr Jill Biden, meanwhile, wore a shimmering cerulean tweed dress and coat designed by Alexandra O’Neill of New York-based brand Markarian, before switching to a pair of Ruchi New York earrings and a Gabriela Hearst’s double-breasted evening coat embroidered with the federal flowers of each US state and territory. The latter felt like a particularly intentional choice, and not just for the piece’s inclusive symbolism: Hearst has long made sustainability a central priority for her brand, and with her recent appointment as creative director of Chloé , is poised to become one of America’s most important brands. exports to the global fashion scene.

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