For Harris — the first woman, first Black person, and first Asian American to be elected vice president — purple signified more than unity, however. She also reportedly wore the color in honor of Shirley Chisholm, who was the first Black woman in Congress and, in 1972, the first Black woman to run for president. Harris topped off the ensemble with her signature pearls, a nod to her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which was founded at Harris’s alma mater, Howard University, in 1908.
Harris’s vivid purple coat was designed by 27-year-old Christopher John Rogers, a 2020 CFDA American Emerging Designer of the Year. Rogers, who is Black and hails from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, posted a photo of Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, along with a message of thanks, on his Instagram on Wednesday.
There were a few other show-stoppers at the inauguration. Former first lady Michelle Obama, well-known for her impeccable fashion sense, had the fashion world agog Wednesday in a plum ensemble designed by Sergio Hudson. Skipping a dress altogether, Obama went with wide-leg trousers, a turtleneck, and a perfectly tailored wool coat so long it brushed the red and blue carpet of the inaugural stage. A shiny gold belt buckle was the chef’s kiss. Social media exploded with praise. (Harris wore Hudson-designed shoes at the inaugural as well.)
Two performers also donned striking looks on Wednesday. Lady Gaga, who sang the national anthem, looked as if she was on her way to the Grammys in a black and red ball gown by Schiaparelli, trimmed with a massive golden dove brooch. (Her matching gold microphone was also a nice touch.) Jennifer Lopez wore icy white Chanel for her performance, which paired perfectly with her enormous diamond engagement ring from beau Alex Rodriguez.
Harvard graduate and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman also made an unforgettable appearance at the Capitol, and not only with the breathtaking recitation of her poem “The Hill We Climb.” The 22-year-old wore a padded red Prada headband, earrings given to her by admirer Oprah Winfrey, and a sunflower yellow coat, which, Gorman told Vogue, was for first lady Jill Biden.
“I’m also wearing a yellow coat, which is my own nod to Dr. Jill Biden, who was the one who recommended me in the first place, and I’m so honored by that. She said, ‘I saw this video of you and you were wearing yellow and I loved it,’” Gorman said in the interview.
Hayley Kaufman can be reached at [email protected].