Jill Biden's Inaugural Designer Shares Her New Collection and Her Fave Pic of Jill in Her Dress

Markarian, an emerging American brand known inherently for its elevated playfulness, was founded by Alexandra O'Neill in 2017. Based in NYC, every piece is made thoughtfully in an effort to reduce waste, with the support of the garment district's fine craftsmanship at its core. That is likely what attracted our First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to the label for Inauguration Day. After all, she has used her fashion choices to signify her dedication to sustainability before. But O'Neill also designed a truly remarkable coatdress set for Biden in a lovely ocean blue tweed that came with a matching face mask. Later on in the evening, the president's granddaughters, Natalie and Finnegan Biden, also wore Markarian.

"Fashion is not all about pretty dresses and glamour, it is a huge industry that supports 180,000 jobs in New York City alone."

"I think it is so wonderful that this administration recognizes the power their fashion choices have. Not only did Dr. Biden, Natalie, and Finnegan look beautiful on Inauguration Day, but their choice of an American brand directly supported independent workers and small businesses in New York's Garment Center who are struggling right now. Fashion is not all about pretty dresses and glamour, it is a huge industry that supports 180,000 jobs in New York City alone," Alexandra told me when I talked to her about dressing Jill, the presentation of her new fall/winter 2021 collection, and the current mission of her brand.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Joe Biden is sworn in as U.S. President as his wife Dr. Jill Biden looks on during his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden b
Getty | Alex Wong

Above: Alexandra's favorite photo of Dr. Jill Biden wearing Markarian on Inauguration Day.

O'Neill, who also creates bridal wear, still counts Emma Roberts's appearance in one of her dresses the first week she launched as one of the most memorable moments. "It was so nice to have that kind of support so early on," she said. Since then, Markarian has become a celebrity go-to as well — Jameela Jamil wore a rainbow sequined robe on the comfort of her own couch for the 2020 Emmys and Demi Lovato recently styled the sequined co-ords with her new pixie cut.

For fall 2021, there is much more high octane glamour to appreciate, with luxe-satin pajama style separates and beautiful, feel-good knits in the mix. Many of the pieces will likely end up on the racks of celebrity stylists, and maybe even hanging in Dr. Biden's closet too. Scroll down to hear more from Alexandra about the magnitude of Inauguration Day, and learn about her current values as a fashion designer with a platform to make a difference.


POPSUGAR: When did you find out Jill would be wearing Markarian on Inauguration Day?
AO: We were so honored to even be considered to design Dr. Biden's Inauguration look. Our entire team was so excited to be a part of this, it felt very energizing. We did not know that she was going to wear it until she walked out that morning, so we were almost just as surprised as everyone else!

"The fact that Dr. Biden chose an emerging American brand shows that she understands the influence her choices can have on American fashion.

PS: What was the aftermath like? Assuming there were a lot of DMs!
AO: I knew there would be a lot of attention on whatever Dr. Biden chose to wear on Inauguration Day, but I never expected it to be to the extent that it was. There was such a huge outpouring of congratulations and well wishes afterwards that felt so heartwarming and encouraging. I truly appreciate every single message I received.

PS: What does it mean to you that in 2021 the First Lady has chosen your brand for this moment in the spotlight?
AO: It is the greatest honor and truly humbling. The fact that Dr. Biden chose an emerging American brand shows that she understands the influence her choices can have on American fashion.


PS: With fashion taking a digital turn the past two seasons, what was your approach to presenting?
AO: It has been challenging showing the collection digitally. It is very different seeing clothing in 2D, rather than seeing the clothing in person. The movement, the drape, the texture and feel do not always translate. I also miss the camaraderie of showing the collections. That being said, I think it is amazing how people have been able to adapt and make it work.

PS: Why is it important for designers to make political statements through their collections?
AO: I think throughout human history art has been a way to make a statement and bring issues to the forefront. Art is an exploration of the human condition, so it is natural for designers to bring that into their work.

PS: Where did the inspiration start for your new collection?
AO: To be honest, it started with me binge watching the TV show Rome, which triggered my love of Classicism again.

PS: Can you pick one look from your new collection that you feel truly speaks to the mood and expression of the range in its entirety?
AO: I love our knitwear this season. It's all sustainable and made in LA. One of my favorite looks from the collection is our shawl sweater worn with a floral jacquard skirt and lots of gold jewelry [above].

See the Full Markarian Fall/Winter 2021 Collection

See the Full Markarian Fall/Winter 2021 Collection