2020’s lack of events with pomp and circumstance meant a lack of clothing with ceremonial flair. Still, at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the event’s celebratory mood was expressed through sartorial spectacle. Messages of peace, hope, and harmony were conveyed via statement accessories or optimistic missives stitched directly into the garments. Lady Gaga kicked things off by singing the national anthem in custom Schiaparelli Haute Couture by Daniel Roseberry. Her navy jacket and voluminous silk faille skirt offered an elegant remix of the ballgown silhouette, but the kicker was the golden dove brooch she wore on her lapel. A timeless symbol of amity, it communicated the pop diva’s hopes for the future.
Later that evening, newly-minted first lady Dr. Jill Biden honored “America the Beautiful” via a double-breasted cashmere coat by Gabriela Hearst. Embroidered with the official flower of every state and territory in the United States, the coat embraced the tradition in a way that felt modern and elegant. The mountain laurels of Biden’s home state of Pennsylvania shared space with the Carolina lily, Hawaiian hibiscus, and the dozens of other blooms featured on the one-of-a-kind piece. Paired with Hearst’s ivory silk Cady dress and matching leather gloves, the look was undoubtedly chic, but the subtle message of unity made it a genuinely dynamic choice.
Messages not tied to politics were equally effective. Cynthia Erivo’s skill at wearing outré fashion is unquestioned, but during the press for her star turn in the Aretha Franklin biopic, Genius: Aretha, she’s pulled out all the stops. For Erivo, playing an iconic performer means dressing the part. Franklin never got a chance to play with the extreme ruffles and metallic textures of Jonathan Anderson’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection for Loewe, but his buoyant exploration of joy would have struck a chord with the star. Erivo’s choice of a glittering silver number with tiers of sparkles felt like an appropriate tribute to an incomparable diva.