Fashion / Style

Jill Biden Gives an Unknown Designer a Chance — and the Result is Inauguration Magic and a Lasting Boost

Markarian is Suddenly a Name to Know

BY // 09.26.21

NEW YORK — It’s been a banner year for Markarian founder and designer Alexandra O’Neill.

First lady Jill Biden picked the virtually unknown New York-based fashion label, which has been around for less than four years, to design and make her inauguration day outfit — a dress of varying shades of blue with jeweled collar, sparkly coat and matching mask combo that received rave reviews.

Coming on the heels of that success, O’Neill staged her first-ever runway show at New York Fashion Week, choosing the famed Rainbow Room, with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline from the 65th floor at Rockefeller Center, to unveil her new collection, which pays homage to a classic way of party dressing with a modern twist.

The show evoked the atelier atmosphere of another era, as guests — including New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, former Hillary Clinton advisor Huma Abedin, and actresses Elizabeth Gilles and Madison Bailey — sat at tables facing the dance floor sipping Tanqueray gin cocktails and wine, as models walked by.

Markarian spring 22 collection at New York Fashion Week
Models posed in a tableau at the end of the Markarian runway show. (Photo courtesy of Markarian)

O’Neill specializes in special occasion wear, and she added a little something extra to each look in the 38-piece collection. These included rich brocade fabrics and such added touches as custom embroideries, oversized bows, puff sleeves, floral appliques, silk ruffles, contrasting shoulder trim, or fold over collars.

The collection also included elaborately hand-beaded boleros with satin skirts, sustainable silk-mohair knitwear pieces with embroidered linens, organic printed silks with Swarovski trims and shimmering brocades with organza ruffles.

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Handbags inspired by classic minaudiéres were made in silk brocades to match each look. And jewelry, created  in collaboration with Ciner, incorporated bright florals and classic antique silhouettes for those who want to really stand out at a special occasion.

Jill Biden knows fashion magic when she sees it.

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