Kamala Harris Wears Christopher John Rogers to the Inauguration—Here’s Why It Matters

Vice President Kamala Harris is sending a powerful message with the brilliant purple coat she is wearing for her swearing-in at today’s 46th Inaugural Ceremony. On the historic occasion of her becoming the first female and first Black and South Asian vice president in our nation’s history, she chose a design by 2020 CFDA American Emerging Designer of the Year, Christopher John Rogers.

Rogers, who is is young, Black, and queer, is a rising star of American fashion. The 27-year-old, who founded his New York label in 2016, was raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and studied fashion at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Responding to criticisms about his bold, colorful style, Rogers told NPR, “I don’t think that wearing hot pink and ruffles or bright yellow, or a really intense blue in shapes that take up space make you any less intelligent,” he says. “I don’t think that the way that you dress should make you sacrifice your personality, or your point of view, or necessarily say anything about your intelligence.”

Rogers draws inspiration for his color-drenched designs from his upbringing in the Southern Baptist church where he developed a deep admiration of the attention to detail that went into monochromatically coordinated ensembles. Much of the grass-roots organizing that won the election came out of such spaces.

The purple color itself—halfway between blue and red—is latent with significance, and matches the Jonathan Cohen “Unity” coat that Dr. Jill Biden wore yesterday arriving in Washington.

It is also worth noting that the diversity with respect to age and race of the models in Rogers’ runway shows aligns with the diversity in the cabinet and values the new White House espouses.

From the moment of the Biden–Harris victory celebration on November 7, for which Harris wore a white Carolina Hererra suit, she has evinced a commitment to celebrating American designers—something we haven’t seen from the White House since Michelle Obama’s tenure as First Lady.

At last night’s candlelight vigil at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to honor of the 400,000 lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris wore a camel coat by Pyer Moss, another New York label designed by a young Black talent. Pyer Moss founder Kerby Jean-Raymond, who is the son of Haitian immigrants, turned his studio into a PPE donation center and provided emergency grants for women- and minority-owned small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

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