Behind the Scenes With Sergio Hudson on Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris' Inauguration Day Looks

Sergio Hudson shares the process of bringing his Inauguration Day outfits for former First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris to life. Keep scrolling to go behind the scenes.

By Beth Sobol, Samantha Schnurr Jan 22, 2021 10:05 PMTags

As Michelle Obama descended the stairs at the United States Capitol to make her formal appearance on Inauguration Day, a world of eyes was watching—including Sergio Hudson's.

The designer was more than 100 miles away from Washington, D.C., stepping into a lounge at a Philadelphia airport when he saw the former first lady donning his design for the occasion for the first time. "I walked into the lounge to charge my phone and I looked up at the screen and Michelle Obama was coming down the stairs," he recalled to fans in an Instagram video. While he had received a text from Obama's stylist, Meredith Koop, telling him that she was indeed wearing his look, Hudson's phone then immediately went dead and he saw the results of his labor for the first time just as the rest of the world did. 

Of course, even if you did not watch the day's historic events on Jan. 20, it's likely you've come across a photo of Obama from the Presidential Inauguration, her powerful look lauded instantaneously online. As Hudson described on Instagram, Obama was a "whole mood" as she confidently sported a monochromatic ensemble of "wineberry plum"—Koop's term—consisting of a turtleneck sweater and high-waisted, wide-legged trousers cinched with a belt and layered under a coordinating coat. As Hudson explained to E! News, the look was inspired by one he had already made. 

Koop "contacted me and said, 'I really like this look from your collection. Can we make this work for Mrs. O?'" Hudson recalled to E! News. "We turned a sweater dress into a sweater, we added a wide-leg pant and we extended the coat to the floor for a little bit of extra drama and to keep her warm on an icy day and that's how the outfit came together."

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' 2021 Inauguration in Photos

While style is a given, comfort is also a priority when it comes to the former first lady. "With Mrs. Obama, Meredith is always looking for something she can be comfortable in. That's one of the prerequisites for dressing her," Hudson shared. "She wants to be comfortable and make a statement, but keep it classic. Me and Meredith, we kind of have the same aesthetic when it comes to fashion, so it's really easy to work together."

However, his work did not stop there. As the evening Inauguration Day program began, people at home watched Vice President Kamala Harris deliver her first speech in her milestone new role while dressed in a black sequin dress topped with a black coat, both also by Hudson. "We actually made a few suits for her while she was on the campaign trail while she was still Senator Harris, so we were already involved with her team," he explained. "Then when they won and we knew there would be an Inauguration, they gave us the option to dress her for one of the events. We were dressing her for what was supposed to be the Inaugural Ball, but of course with everything that happened, they turned it into a brief moment where she could speak, which I thought was beautiful."

Rob Carr/Getty Images; JOSHUA ROBERTS/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The gravity of the occasion and Harris' monumental title was not lost on the designer. "With Madam Vice President, it is so important that you keep in mind that she is an elected official and she is a pioneer of what she's doing, so it's a much more careful situation when you're dressing her," he said. "But, we got to have fun just adding sparkle."

Now, facing rave reviews for his sartorial part in the momentous occasion—and a groundbreaking day in American history—Hudson is soaking in a job well done. 

"It felt very validating," he said. "You think you're good, you think you have what it takes to be out there and dress women and have your own point of view as a designer, but until a woman wears your pieces and you know she feels good, as good as she looks, then that's the most important thing. More so than the clothes she had on—how she felt. And that's what people reacted to."

Below, go behind the scenes with Hudson and see how he brought these looks to life—including the special detail he included inside Harris' outfit!

Runway to Real Life

It was this look from Sergio Hudson's fall-winter 2020 runway show that launched former First Lady Michelle Obama's final, more outside-friendly outfit for the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.

The Finished Look

As former First Lady Michelle Obama appeared hand in hand with former President Barack Obama, Sergio Hudson's design officially came to life. 

Imagining the Glamour

While Hudson kept Vice President Kamala Harris' new role in mind while designing her evening look, he gave it a splash of glitz with all-over sequins. 

Beginnings of Fashion History

Long before Vice President Kamala Harris' dress debuted at the Lincoln Memorial, it was panels of fabric ready to be cut and sewn. 

Work in Progress

Cue the sequins! 

Designer Vision

Sergio Hudson brings his imagination to fruition. 

A Detail for a Groundbreaker

Inside Vice President Kamala Harris' dress, Sergio Hudson commemorated her historic election by having "Madam Vice President" sewn onto the tag. 

The Finished Product

From a sketch to the National Mall, behold Sergio Hudson's final design for Vice President Kamala Harris.