The colorful symbolism behind Baton Rouge native Christopher John Rogers’ inaugural look for Vice President Kamala Harris
When Vice President Kamala Harris appeared on TV screens across the country to swear her oath of office on January 20, we knew that we were witnessing a historic moment in American politics. Not just because she will forever be the first woman and woman of color to hold the title in this country, but because when she walked through the doors of the United States Capitol, she walked through them wearing an ensemble designed by none other than Baton Rouge native Christopher John Rogers, whose meteoric rise to fame over the past few years has brought him from the pages of inRegister to the highest of fashion’s honors and beyond.
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Bedecked in a sleek purple dress and coat (and wearing pearls designed by Puerto Rican jewelry designer Wilfredo Rosado, in honor of the “Twenty Pearls” of her Howard University sorority), Vice President Harris embodied a style bearing special significance in an already turbulent year marked by anguish, dissent and dissatisfaction. Designing an inaugural look in purple certainly reads as a purposeful nod toward the hoped-for future of bipartisanship between “red” and “blue” states, and carries a well-known history as a color of nobility.
As Rogers told Vanity Fair in 2020, “The people who initially reached out to me for interviews and pulled my stuff and actually used it were Black women. Black women understood why I didn’t shy away from color.” Zendaya’s record-breaking win at the 72nd Emmy Awards (dressed also in Rogers’ near-signature luminescent violet) seemed to have peaked his popularity in that pre-election burst of time, but to see his name cemented as a designer for heads of state—and for his work, on Vice President Harris, to surely appear in textbooks throughout the country in decades to come—is a new achievement altogether, both for his career and for the significance of fashion in statements of national importance.
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The past year has already taught us lessons in turning to creatives like James Baldwin and Zadie Smith—and, in the years ahead, maybe to a young Amanda Gorman—to develop our struggling spirits, but as for the future of the fashionable arts, only time will tell what roles they play in the future of new beginnings in this ever-evolving country.
As for Rogers himself, well, maybe his Baton Rouge roots are what’s keeping him humble. In a nod to his role on the Capitol stage, only a simple post appeared on his Instagram page on the morning of January 20: “Thank you, Madam Vice President. We are so honored and humbled to have played a small part in this historic moment.”