Why Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton were exuding purple power at the inauguration

Updated 21 Jan, 2021 05:35pm

History was made in Washington, oaths were taken and style statements were made.

They came, they saw one of their own take an oath, they slayed — we're talking about the women at the inauguration ceremony of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and their sartorial choices.

The United States’ peaceful transition of power included a spotlight on fashion on Wednesday as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in at the US Capitol, both sporting American designers.

Harris, the first woman, the first Black person and the first Asian American to hold the office, chose Black designers for the historic moment.

At the Capitol, she wore a mid-length purple coat and matching dress from New York-based designer Christopher John Rogers.

“Thank you, Madam Vice President,” Rogers posted on Instagram.

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Harris completed her look with her signature pearls, which observers say is a nod to sisterhood and her membership of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first black Greek-letter sorority, at Howard University in Washington, DC.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama joined Harris in wearing shades of purple.

So what exactly is the significance?

Purple is a colour of the American women’s suffrage movement that led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which granted women the right to vote.

American suffrage colours — purple, white and yellow — according to USA Today stood for loyalty, purity and hope, respectively.

It is also a colour that many observers interpret as a symbol of unity between the Democrat “blue states” and Republican “red states” of the country, a theme of the ceremony.

Hillary Clinton confirmed she wore “purple with a purpose”, telling The Associated Press: “I want to just send a bit of a symbolic message that we need to come together.”

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Clinton also chose purple for her concession speech back in 2016.

Former first lady Michelle Obama drew praise from fans on social media for her belted pantsuit in plum, by Sergio Hudson, a Black designer from South Carolina.

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Other notable style statements

Lady in blue

First lady Jill Biden wore an ocean blue dress and overcoat embellished with Swarovski pearls and crystals by Alexandra O’Neill from New York label Markarian. The colour was chosen “to signify trust, confidence, and stability", the designer said. To fight the Covid-19 pandemic, her outfit included a matching silk face mask.

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Gaga over Gaga

Lady Gaga performed the national anthem in a lavish custom Schiaparelli gown by French label Schiaparelli, which is led by Texan Daniel Roseberry, with a full red skirt and a navy coat adorned with a humongous gold dove holding an olive branch.

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“A dove carrying an olive branch. May we all make peace with each other,” the entertainer wrote on Twitter.

Casual and cool Bernie

Senator Bernie Sanders made a fashion statement of a different sort, in a casual coat with massive, striped wooly mittens. He drew fashion praise on social media for his cozy, comfortable inauguration wear — not to mention gifted us with so many memes.

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