2020 was a year of awakening for the entire nation. With Biden’s victory culminating an otherwise terrible era, it also brought in a new feeling of hope and progress for the country.
During the Inauguration, Kamala Harris, the United States’ first Female Black and South Asian VP, was rocking Black fashion labels on perhaps the most viewed stage in the country.
Though a VP of color isn’t going to erase the historic systemic racism that she too contributed to as a prosecutor, the nation can still see how the country can actually look in the future.
Opportunity is in the air, and Harris displayed that with the plethora of Black designers custom-make her wardrobe for her inaugural events. Sporting Pyer Moss, Christopher John Rogers, and Sergio Hudson portrayed the administration’s diversity in all aspects, including fashion.
“When it comes to inauguration events, black designers have been almost exclusively absent,” author Ronda Racha Penrice said, “so it was nice to discover that the fabulous outfits [were] created by black designers.”
The night before the inauguration, Harris wore a cream-colored coat with a wave on the shoulders of the jacket. Kerby Jean-Raymond, Pyer Moss’s owner, described it as a ‘new wave’ to signal a new era. Erica Darnell Pritchard, the author of Fashioning Lives, said the wave made him think of the Atlantic Ocean. “As a descendant of enslaved African people, stolen and taken over the Atlantic, I thought immediately of those ancestors,” Pritchard noted.
On the inauguration’s evening celebrations, Harris wore Sergio Hudson. A black tux and sequined dress inspired by southern roots like Baton Rouge, LA, and Columbia, South Carolina.
Penrice shared that Black fashion designers Rogers and Hudson’s inspirations were around ‘stylish Black church women.’
“There is a high drama, but buttoned-up simplicity and sophistication in each man’s work that I associated with Black southern women.”
Though Harris is breaking multiple barriers, that does not mean that criticism doesn’t lurk in the shadows. Harris’ Vogue cover was widely criticized, to the point of being pulled and redone.
The new Vogue cover was released last week, and her team learned what will fly and what will not.
It was different for first lady Michelle Obama who was always the best dressed at events and even shared the same designer at the inauguration, but surely not the same outfit.
Fashion historian Darnell-Jamal Lisby said, “I can foresee VP Harris receiving a certain level of backlash if she were to use fashion in the same way as Flotus because, at the end of the day, she is a politician… She has to walk a narrow line because if the public were to be distracted by her style, it’d be difficult for her to really enact what she wants to get done.”
Beyond the critique, if last week’s inauguration moments were a glimmer of what the next four years will be, they will be fashionable, inclusive, and women-led. The crowd can’t wait to see more of Harris’ Black Fashion Designer outfits, along with her policies.