Jill Biden’s inauguration outfits added to the official Smithsonian collection
The Smithsonian has been documenting the ensembles President’s wives have worn while taking office since the popular Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s First Ladies Collection was unveiled in 1914. When Jill Biden’s ensembles were officially added this week, they included a unique accessory: the face mask. Her dress and coat ensemble by Gabriela Hearst and Markarian came with specially created custom-made matching masks as the First Lady became the first in history to join her husband in office during a global pandemic on January 20, 2021. Almost two years to date, those clothes took their place in history at the national museum.
To mark the formal ceremony at which the First Lady hands over her wardrobe from January 20, 2021, the institution invited several New York-based independent designers that read like a "Who’s Who” of the next generation of great American brands. Each has been in business on average for about a decade. Among those invited were Victor Glemaud, Jennifer Fisher, Marina Larroude, Jonathan Cohen, Gigi Burris, Alejandra Alonso Rojas, Tanya Taylor, and naturally, Gabriela Hearst and Markarian designer Alexandra O’Neill whose brands will now have a place in the permanent collection. Stylist Bailey Moon was also there.
The fashion field trip was an honor for those invited. Designer Victor Glemaud told FashionNetwork.com over email after getting Covid tests with good friend Gigi Burris; they joined the other New York creatives at the museum.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Biden briefly prior to the start of the event proceedings. She was very charming and welcomed the unwavering support from the group of New York designers,” he said over email.
“I have seen the 'First Ladies Collection' before and remain besotted with Lady Bird Johnson’s yellow inaugural look. I saw it again this week; it is still as beautiful as I remembered,” Glemaud recalled.
Jeweler Jennifer Fisher was lucky to capture a selfie with the First Lady and documented the event on social media.
The outfits include her daytime ensemble, Markarian’s matching dress and overcoat in blue, the color of the Democratic party to which she and her husband, President Biden belong. She wore Gabriela Hearst’s white embroidered floral dress and matching coat for the evening. The floral stitchwork included flowers from every state in the union as a symbol of unity. Each had a coordinating custom face mask.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in lieu of a ball was a nationally televised inaugural concert featuring Garth Brooks, John Legend, Katy Perry, and more, plus a fireworks display. Dr. Biden joined other First Ladies such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Edith Wilson, Florence Harding, Lou Hoover, Grace Coolidge, and Betty Ford, who forfeited a ball due to war, the Depression or other reasons.
“Today, Dr. Biden continues a more than a century-long tradition that is beloved by the American people, but it is also an important symbol of the continuing endurance of American democracy,” said Anthea Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan director. “Each ensemble in one of the most visible collections at the museum tells a story about the spouse who wore it and their hopes for the nation.”
“The First Ladies” exhibition features 27 dresses and more than 160 other objects, ranging from those of Martha Washington to Dr. Biden, and includes White House state china settings, personal possessions, and artifacts from the Smithsonian’s unique collection of first ladies’ materials. Among the dresses displayed in the exhibition are Grace Coolidge’s flapper-style evening gown, Jacqueline Kennedy’s yellow-silk gown worn to the Kennedy administration’s first state dinner in 1961, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s slate blue crepe gown, which she wore to the 1933 inaugural ball.
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