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Kamala Harris Wore Purple & Pearls Today — Here’s Why That Matters

Refinery29 logo Refinery29 1/20/2021 Irina Grechko
a man and a woman standing in front of a crowd © Provided by Refinery29

Leading up to today’s inauguration, there has been a lot of speculation about what Vice President Kamala Harris would wear to the ceremony. As the first woman, Black, and South Asian American to be vice president, Harris was expected to use her wardrobe to uplift Black talent and emerging American designers — and she did not disappoint.

For the historic occasion, the Vice President chose an amethyst-hued look from 2020 CFDA American Emerging Designer of the Year, Christopher John Rogers. From the start of his career, Rogers, who is Black, has championed diversity on the runway. Staging runway shows more akin to celebrations, the designer has become known for his use of electric colors and rich jewel tones and unabashedly optimistic collections

“Thank you, Madam Vice President. We are so honored and humbled to have played a small part in this historic moment,” the brand’s Instagram post wrote next to a photo of Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff.

In addition to choosing CJR as the designer behind the look, the rich shade of purple is also significant. A combination of red and blue (the traditional colors of the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively), purple is a symbol of American unity and bipartisanship. The color was also prominent during the women’s suffrage movement when it symbolized loyalty. On Tuesday night, Jill Biden wore purple while attending the COVID Memorial at the National Mall in Washington that honored more than 400,000 Americans who have died since the pandemic took hold. Former First Lady Michelle Obama and former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also wore outfits — by Sergio Hudson and Ralph Lauren, respectively — in variations of the shade to the inauguration on Wednesday. 

Harris accessorized the look with her signature pearls — this style is from Wilfredo Rosado — a nod to her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. According to Elle, her heels are by Sergio Hudson, a Black designer from South Carolina.

This look comes a day after Harris wore a coat by Pyer Moss to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Not only is the founder behind the brand, Kerby Jean-Raymond, the son of Haitian immigrants, but Pyer Moss was also one of the first brands to convert its studio into a PPE donation center. It also provided financial relief to women- and minority-owned small businesses affected by the fallout from the pandemic. 

If we are to judge the looks from the Vice President so far, Harris is setting a powerful aesthetic tone for the next four years, one that will prominently feature American designers, who not only produce beautiful designs but also possess the strong values to back them up.

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