Biden was most assuredly not alone on the monochrome color train. Newly minted Vice President Kamala Harris opted for a single color palette for her history-making swearing in. In her case it was purple, one of the colors that featured prominently in her earlier campaign for the White House. According to CNN’s Abby Phillip, the color was a nod to the trail-blazing Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to U.S. Congress who ran for president in 1972, but it can also be seen as a symbolic uniting of red and blue — as in the red state and blue state divisions that have characterized the country for the last four years.
While the decision behind the color-choice might not be clear, the choice of designers was crystal clear. By choosing to wear New York-based designer Christopher John Rogers, a young Black designer from Baton Rouge, La., the vice president has signaled that she plans to leverage her elevated profile on the world stage to champion designers of color. (For Tuesday night’s Inauguration week event, she wore a Pyer Moss overcoat by Black designer Kerby Jean-Raymond.) Rogers, who took home the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Emerging Designer Award last year, followed up that honor by creating the bright purple ensemble Harris wore to her swearing-in (accented, in case you were wondering, with an American flag lapel pin by David Yurman).
Also part of the purple-people parade (and firmly in lockstep with the tone-on-tone outfits elsewhere in the Inauguration crowd) were former First Lady Michelle Obama — wearing a plum-colored suit by the Los Angeles-based designer Sergio Hudson — and Clinton in a vibrant purple Ralph Lauren pantsuit with an eye-catching neck ruffle. Layered under a black overcoat, it was a color combination that evoked the outfit Clinton she wore when delivering her November 2016 concession speech.
In a photo taken on their way into the Capitol in advance of the ceremony, the tone-on-tone ensembles of the women, the traditional suiting of the men and the way the new first lady’s color palette keyed subtly into the shade of her husband’s necktie, the message seemed clear: Unity, stability, consistency and forethought are front and center, and young, emerging fashion designers have not one but two new friends in the White House.