Meeting the moment.
That’s what the new vanguard of American designers thrust into the fashion spotlight during events surrounding President Joe Biden’s inauguration has been trying to do since their businesses changed overnight on Jan. 20.
For the diverse group of young talent, the race is on to capitalize on the media attention, satisfy customer demand for even a small piece of their brands, and get ready for the fall 2021 season, which officially starts this week — all while managing the harsh realities of working during a pandemic that has devastated the apparel sector and sidelined many of fashion’s bigger names this New York runway season (Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch among them).
“We got the call from Dr. [Jill] Biden’s team at the end of December, and from then to the Monday before the inauguration when I delivered the dress, we completely dedicated ourselves to making it,” said Markarian designer Alexandra O’Neill, who with her three employees custom made the velvet-trimmed ocean blue coat, dress and mask the first lady wore to the ceremony.
“I was designing her look and our fall collection simultaneously so there are elements they share.…We have a coat