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First Lady Jill Biden’s Inauguration Outfits—Face Masks Included—Are Now in the Smithsonian

Two years ago, Dr. Jill Biden became the first (and hopefully only) first lady to accessorize her inauguration day ensembles with matching face masks. Now, those emblems of the COVID-19 pandemic—along with Dr. Biden’s blue Markarian coat and dress and white embroidered coat and dress by Gabriela Hearst—have joined the Smithsonian’s popular First Ladies Collection. Showcasing over two dozen gowns worn by first ladies throughout American history, the exhibition includes Jacqueline Kennedy’s white Oleg Cassini inaugural gown, a 1780s dress owned by Martha Washington, and the ethereal, one-shouldered Jason Wu ensemble that Michelle Obama wore to the inauguration ball in 2009.

Gabriela Hearst, first lady Jill Biden, and Alexandra O’Neill of Markarian. 

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“This day is so much more emotional than I imagined it would be,” Biden remarked in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, when the dresses were formally added to the collection. (She wore a blue and gold floral printed Markarian midi dress for the occasion, combining the color and embroidery of the two outfits she was there to honor.) And truthfully, the attitude at the presentation was both joyful and more reflective than one might expect. 

Biden notably chose two young, exciting design talents to create her inaugural ensembles. As both Markarian’s Alexandra O’Neill and Hearst noted in their own remarks, they produced those looks in New York’s garment district. Hearst, the founder of her eponymous label and current creative director of Chloé, is a leader in the luxury sustainability space who honed in on the unifying message Biden wanted to project with her evening attire. Hearst’s team embroidered the federal flowers from every US state and territory on the white dress, with Biden’s home state of Delaware right above the educator’s heart. O’Neill and Biden, meanwhile, first met when O’Neill was just starting out. Biden was drawn to O’Neill’s sensibility, which the first lady described as “both timeless and new. That was exactly what I was looking for, because young people showed up and voted for Joe in historic numbers.”

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