Puerto Rico had a strong presence at the 2021 inauguration, from the service of the Puerto Rico National Guard to Jennifer Lopez’s musical performance. Puerto Rico was also represented during the evening celebration.
First Lady Jill Biden chose to send a message of unity with a dress, coat, and mask ensemble hand embroidered with the official flowers of each state and territory.
Flor de Maga
Puerto Rico’s official flower is the Puerto Rican Hibiscus, also known as Thespesia grandiflora, Maga grandiflora, Montezuma and flor de maga. It is related to the common hibiscus, but is the bloom of the maga tree.
Dr. Biden’s ensemble
Gabriela Hearst designed the dress, coat, and matching mask for the occasion. Hearst is an immigrant from Uruguay.
Flowers were embroidered around the hem of the coat.
They were also embroidered on the silk bodice and sleeves of the dress. The official flower of the Bidens’s home State of Delaware was placed near Dr. Biden’s heart, and all the other flowers were carefully arranged into a beautiful and unified pattern.
All the work was completed in New York. The embroidery was done by L.W. Pearl, a company owned by Irish immigrant Laura Weber Rein, who has also created embellishments for Michelle Obama.
Each flower took two to four hours to complete. The embroidery was then applied to the dress and coat.
Messages of the dress
The dress supported the overall theme of unity and inclusion communicated by the inauguration. The designer also pointed out that the ensemble was environmentally responsible.
Wool and silk, which are natural fibers, were used in the construction of the clothing. The designer also chose to use fabrics that had already been produced, rather than making new fabrics, to reduce the resources used in construction of the clothing.
It is expected that the dress will eventually be donated to the National Museum of History, which has a collection of gowns worn by many of the First Ladies, beginning with Martha Washington.