There are so many powerful components to the inauguration today, and I will write about it elsewhere. But, here, I want to take a moment to tip my hat for the way women of the day used fashion as political and cultural symbols.
It became clear, early in the day, that the important women of the highest order were colluding about their choice of color—purple! Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama, among others, all wore the color purple. Several theories have been proposed as to why this was the case. Some commentators have harkened back to the days of the Suffragettes—before they wore white, purple was the color of choice. Others suspected that royal purple was selected as it represents the merging of blue and red, symbolizing the coming together of Democrats and Republicans. Finally, the authorities at WWD (formerly Women’s Wear Daily) said, “When (Harris) ran for president one of the colors of her campaign was purple…that is a nod to Shirley Chisholm (the first black woman elected to the United States Congress), who ran or president as a Black woman decades ago and inspired her political career.”
Many have noted the significance of decorative items among those involved with the inauguration. Lady Gaga’s red and black extravaganza proudly displayed a large dove and olive branch on her bodice. The young poet Amanda Gorman had a “caged bird” ring to honor the late poet Maya Angelou.
Mrs. Biden had many subtleties in her garments—for the inauguration eve service at the Lincoln Memorial, she donned a dress that was, also, purple. Her tranquil blue dress and coat, at the inauguration, featured crystals, to expose the light of a new day. That evening, she wore a beautiful winter white sheath and coat. The hem of the duster was embroidered with the official flowers of all the American states. In the lining was inscribed a quotation, from Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This, of course, was a tribute to Dr. Biden’s lifelong career as an educator.
Beyond the color, decorations, and accessories noted in the day, these women were deliberate in their choices of designers, emphasizing emerging talents and under-represented populations. Among the designers with clothes featured in the festivities were Christopher John Rogers, an African-American from Baton Rouge, and Black designer Sergio Hudson.