The designer at Markarian, Alexandra O’Neill, created First Lady Jill Biden’s custom blue suit for Inauguration Day.
Traditionally, fashion has had a leading role in such an historic moment. First Lady-to-be surprised the industry with her choice for President Joe Biden’s inauguration, as Markarian was not on the shortlist of designers that were speculated about to dress the new first lady.
Designers who were said to be in the running to outfit her and/or Harris include Ralph Lauren, Gabriela Hearst, Wes Gordon at Carolina Herrera, Donald Deal, Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung, LaQuan Smith, Oscar de la Renta and Brandon Maxwell.
Nodding to emerging design talent, sustainable fashion and multiculturalism, Jill Biden’s choices hit all the right notes and contributed to a growing sense among onlookers that fashion diplomacy has returned to the American political stage.
O’Neill created a custom blue Markarian coat, dress and matching face mask for the historic moment. Jill Biden’s coat was designed with dark blue velvet collars and cuffs and worn on top of a tapered dress with a chiffon bodice and scalloped skirt. Both pieces are embellished with Swarovski pearls and crystals placed in a floral pattern on the dress. The color blue was chosen to “signify trust, confidence and stability,” according to a press release from Markarian.
The inauguration look is a pivotal moment in O’Neill’s career, but it is not the first time she’s dressed a high-profile figure. In the past, O’Neill’s designs have been seen on the likes of Kerry Washington, Laura Dern, Kate Hudson, Andie MacDowell, Lizzo and many others.
O’Neill began her design career at the age of 10 when her grandmother taught her how to sew when she was growing up in rural Colorado.
Her upbringing influenced Markarian, which she named after a “radiant grouping of galaxies.” The brand is a celebration of O’Neill’s love of celestial romanticism and has a timeless, feminine aesthetic.
What does the name MARKARIAN mean?
The Markarian galaxies are a class of galaxies that have nuclei with excessive amounts of ultraviolet emissions compared with other galaxies. Beniamin “Benik” Egishevitch Markarian (Armenian: Բենիամին Եղիշեի Մարգարյան; born 29 November 1913 in Shulaver, Tiflis Governorate; died 29 September 1985 in Yerevan, Armenian SSR) was Armenian astrophysicist who drew attention to these types of galaxies starting in 1963. The nuclei of the galaxies had a blue colour, associated to stars in the classes from O to A. This blue core did not match the rest of the galaxy. The spectrum in detail tends to show a continuum that Markarian concluded was produced non-thermally. Most of these have emission lines and are characterized by highly energetic activity.
“My grandmother taught me how to sew at the age of 10,” Alexandra writes on her site. “From then on, I started designing and making clothing with her help. Growing up in rural Colorado, we had no neighbors for miles in any direction. At night, when we turned out all the lights in the house and looked outside, all we could see was complete darkness and the light from the stars in the sky.”
She continues, “If I looked long enough, I would always see at least one shooting star. The sky that I saw when I was young was infinite, and that is what I loved most about it. The magic of those childhood moments still inspires me. I often think it is that magic that led me to focus on antiquities in college – the romantic notion of mythology and the human desire to create sense of the workings of the cosmos.”