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US Inauguration Day 2021: The Best Fashion Moments and Their Meanings

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

From left: US second gentleman Doug Emhoff, vice president Kamala Harris, first lady Dr Jill Biden and president Joe Biden. Photo: Getty

January 20, 2021, will go down in history as the US inaugurated its 46th president, Joe Biden, alongside Kamala Harris, who is the first woman, the first Black person, and the first person of South Asian descent to be vice president. With the world’s eyes on the US Capitol, such a remarkable moment called for ensembles that go beyond making a fashion statement, and the attendees more than delivered.

Symbolism reigned supreme in every outfit – from the designers who created them, to the accessories that adorned them. Stepping up to the platform to become the first woman vice president of the US, Harris made sure her signature power pearls were right there with her; however, this pearl necklace is the most significant one. Created by New York jeweler Wilfredo Rosado to symbolize Harris’s achievement as well as her toughness and femininity, the necklace features Australian South Sea pearls surrounded by elliptical gold chain links. “I wanted it to represent who Kamala is – to Americans, to women, to people of color, to the world,” shared Rosado with Vogue. As for Harris’s outfit, the color purple has long been seen as a bipartisan one, since it merges the blue associated with the Democratic party and the red of the Republicans. The bright hued coat was designed by Christopher John Rogers – an African American creative named the 2020 CFDA American Emerging Designer of the Year – and gave a nod to the bipartisan tone of the momentous day set by President Biden’s speech, which centered around unity.

The first lady of the US, Dr Jill Biden, also chose to champion an emerging American label. Her coat and dress, blue in color to represent the Democratic party, as well as trust, confidence, and stability, was custom made by New York-based brand Markarian’s Alexandra O’Neill, who embroidered the coat with Swarovksi crystals. “The look was carefully crafted by a small team in the heart of New York City’s Garment Center and hand-finished by O’Neill in her West Village studio,” a statement from the brand reads. “Alexandra is incredibly humbled to be a small part of such a historic moment.” Another notable attendee to don a monochrome outfit was Michelle Obama. Championing a shade of the popular purple, the former first lady chose a chic plum ensemble by young Black designer Sergio Hudson, who is known to be one of her favorites.

The musical performers of the day were not far behind when it came to clothes with a meaning. One of the most anticipated celebratory acts of the day, Lady Gaga sang the US national anthem wearing a bespoke gown that is sure to stand out in her repertoire of headline-making looks. The stunning gown was created by American couturier Daniel Roseberry, who helms the French fashion house Schiaparelli as artistic director. Above its voluminous ruffled crimson silk faille skirt is a fitted and modest black bodice that served as the perfect canvas for the oversized golden dove brooch with an olive branch to shine. Speaking to Vogue, Gaga’s stylist Sandra Amador said, “Daniel Roseberry designed the perfect look for this occasion. The dove, which represents love and peace, was our biggest inspiration.” Roseberry said in a statement, “As an American living in Paris, this ensemble is a love letter to the country I miss so dearly and to a performer whose artistry I have so long admired.”

Next up was Jennifer Lopez, who also went down the monochrome route like Harris, Dr Biden, and Obama, except she did so in an all-white outfit. A nod to the women’s suffrage movement in the US, the radiant white ensemble consisted of an ecru and tweed overcoat, a ruffled blouse, and sequined, high-waisted trousers plucked from Chanel’s FW20 collection. The singer stepped on to the platform in white Jimmy Choo heels to sing a moving rendition of  “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful.”

Below, take a look at some of the best fashion moments from Inauguration Day.

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