WATCH: This powerful ad is going viral for its realistic depiction of breastfeeding

Jennifer McShane

Our pick of new-in homeware to bring that spring feeling into your home

Megan Burns

There were so many great small-space ideas in last night’s ‘Home of the Year’

Lauren Heskin

‘My 11-year-old daughter lost a dangerous amount of weight before I realised it was anorexia’

IMAGE

‘First-time fatherhood is like the flicking of a switch. Now you’re not. Now you are.’

Peter Crawley

Make the ultimate comfort food with this chicken and mushroom pie

IMAGE Interiors & Living

The time has come for women to talk about money

IMAGE

Happy news: President Michael D Higgins has a new puppy

Jennifer McShane

This €12 conditioner is like lipgloss for your hair

Holly O'Neill

Image / Style / Fashion / Off The Cuff

Please, keep asking Vice President Kamala Harris who she’s wearing


by Freya Drohan
28th Jan 2021

Read time: 5 mins

Vice President Kamala Harris' fashion choices are not only intentional and important, they're vital to a diversifying industry, writes New York-based fashion editor Freya Drohan.

Several years ago, a campaign called #AskHerMore went viral. The premise was that actresses walking the red carpet should be pressed for their opinions on meatier subjects—rather than just who they’re wearing.

On Inauguration Day, as members of the media excitedly took to Twitter to share updates about what designers incoming Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden had selected for such a momentous day, there were some audible groans and eye rolls in the mix as commentators fired back that this isn’t the red carpet of fashion week.

This discourse — that it’s frivolous, or old fashioned, or sexist to dissect what a female politician wears — reminds me of how I feel when someone says fashion week is “dead” or irrelevant. Typically, it’s a statement uttered by people whose livelihood doesn’t rely on this trillion-dollar industry. And to draw a parallel in this instance: while it has its flaws, the show schedule is crucial for designers as the platform it affords their brand is worth millions of dollars in media impact value and public awareness. As for the visibility guaranteed when the world’s eyes are on a political figure wearing your work? That’s a whole other level of priceless.

The Camel Coat

So when Vice President Harris arrived at the COVID-19 Memorial Service to pay tribute to the 417,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the virus, her choice of outfit was a camel coat: something strong and solid and reliable. But more importantly, its designer, Kerby Jean-Raymond of streetwear label Pyer Moss, is someone who acted valiantly in the face of the pandemic. Early on, as the crisis ravaged New York, he was one of the first designers to organize the distribution of PPE and he also raised over $50,000 to help small businesses across the city.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Pyer Moss (@pyermoss)

Harris, who is the first Black person to become Vice President, also ensured this moment went to someone who is vocal about the treatment of Black Americans, and one who doesn’t shy away from speaking of his own experiences with racism in the fashion industry. The Haitian-American designer was one of the first to pen an open letter about the treatment of Black people working in fashion, and his show themes are usually rooted in pervasive, prevalent social issues like police brutality and men’s mental health. Indeed, they’re more like cultural events than traditional runway shows.

I was fortunate enough to intern at one of his seminal shows back in 2016, during which a model carried a sign which read, “My demons won today. I’m sorry.” It was in reference to the last words spoken by a Black Lives Matter activist who shot himself after struggling with depression. It was my first, formative experience of working at New York Fashion Week, and after that chilling runway finale, I knew that I would never believe that fashion is merely surface level.

At its very core, fashion can be a vehicle for opening conversations—which is exactly what Vice President Harris did when she chose to wear Pyer Moss for that sombre occasion. Without her even saying a word, her coat conveyed so much.

The Purple Coat

On Inauguration Day, it was Christopher John Rogers who got the chatter going in the group text with my co-workers at the magazine I work at. “This is the fashion week I didn’t know I needed,” my boss said. Between the designers creating the clothes and the editors whose job it is to find meaning in them, our industry has taken such a battering this year.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by CJR ? (@christopherjohnrogers)

But when Harris stepped out in the purple coat by the queer-identifying young upstart — Rogers is only 27, and up until the recent cash influx from his CFDA win, his small team was operating out of his Brooklyn living room— it was a much-needed reminder of how multi-faceted a garment can be in its messaging and impact. (And speaking of impact, figures from Launch Metrics released on Thursday totalled the ‘media impact value’ of Harris wearing Rogers and Jean-Raymond at $5.1 million and $3.5 million, respectively.)

It’s rumoured that Harris is working with Hollywood super stylist Karla Welch (in which case, brava Karla for identifying how fitting these fledgeling designers are for the time!) but regardless, from her Converse to the omnipresent pearls she wears in homage to her sorority, Harris innately knows what her clothing choices say to those who are listening and those who are desperate to be heard by this new administration.

Ask her more, for sure. But don’t forget that there’s so much to be deciphered in who and what she’s wearing too.

 

Also Read

Merle
IRISH DESIGN
Jewellery designer and crystal healer Merle O’Grady turns healing stones in jewellery

From the IMAGE Annual issue, Melanie Morris meets jewellery designer and crystal healer Merle O’Grady to find a woman who’s put a very fashiony feel to the ancient practice.

By Melanie Morris

SHOPPING
Win a pair of gorgeous silver hoop earrings this Christmas

Still looking for that perfect Christmas gift? Enter to win...

By IMAGE

FASHION, OFF THE CUFF
This one classic top is going to transform your winter wardrobe

Groundbreaking, it ain’t, but the roll-necks versatility could make it...

By Holly O'Neill

FASHION, SUSTAINABLE STYLE
Irish linen a key feature of this sustainable Irish fashion brand

Four Threads is a sustainable Irish brand that is producing...

By Marie Kelly

BEAUTY
The greatest brow growth serums for fuller, fluffier eyebrows

   

By Holly O'Neill

BEAUTY
The definitive ranking of lip balms you need in your life

By Holly O'Neill

BEAUTY
The 20 best beauty products of 2020, from eyebrow gels to hair treatments

We’ve rounded up our favourite beauty products of 2020, from...

By IMAGE

Dermaplaning makes use of a small, sharp blade atop a long piece of plastic which is then used to gently shave downy vellus hair from different areas of the face
premium BEAUTY
And now Dermaplaning. When will it be okay for women to have hair?

Self-improvement is a seemingly never end task for the aspiring beautiful woman - but where is the breaking point?

By Kate Demolder