INAUGURATION STYLE

Jill Biden’s Inauguration Ensemble Is a Boon for American Designers

Melania Trump, meanwhile, exited the White House in French and Italian brands.


Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, Melania Trump broke with tradition for one last time in her term as First Lady by eschewing American designers; she made her official exit from the White House in a funereal Dolce & Gabbana dress and Chanel jacket. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Capitol, First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had already brought that era to an end. For a memorial on the eve of the inauguration, both wore designs by American up-and-comers: a camel coat by Pyer Moss’s Kerby Jean Raymond for Harris, and a purple Jonathan Cohen coat and dress for Biden.

Just 12 hours later, Biden gave another New York-based up-and-comer an even bigger shoutout. She will shortly watch her husband be sworn into office in a custom woolen tweed coat and dress, along with a matching silk face mask, by Markarian’s Alexandra O’Neill.

O’Neill, who launched Markarian in 2017 after struggling to find a dress for her sister’s wedding, typically keeps things light. She’s described her dreamy, traditionally feminine designs favored by celebrities like Emma Roberts and Emily Ratajkowski as Jane Austen meets Laura Ashley. But for Biden, she went with something symbolic. “The color blue,” O’Neill explained in a press release, “was chosen for the pieces to signify trust, confidence, and stability.”

Raymond seems to have been just the first Black American designer Harris plans to rep. For her inaugural ensemble, she chose a purple coat by Christopher John Rogers and shoes by Sergio Hudson. Like Biden’s the previous night, the coat is purple—a color that’s proven particularly popular among inaugural attendees. Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton followed suit, and perhaps symbolically; purple, of course, is a mix of red and blue.

Related: Kamala Harris Wears Christopher John Rogers, a Heralded Black American Designer, For Inauguration

From Jill Biden to Jacqueline Kennedy, a History of First Ladies’ Inauguration Day Style

First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, 1957

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Jacqueline Kennedy, 1961

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Pat Nixon, 1969

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Rosalynn Carter, 1977

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Nancy Reagan, 1981

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Nancy Reagan, 1981

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Nancy Reagan, 1985

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Hillary Clinton, 1993

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Hillary Clinton, 1997

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Hillary Clinton, 1997

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Laura Bush, 2001

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Laura Bush, 2005

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Laura Bush, 2005

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Michelle Obama, 2009

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Michelle Obama, 2009

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Michelle Obama, 2013

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Michelle Obama, 2013

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Melania Trump, 2017

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Jill Biden, 2021

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
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