Pearls, Kamala Harris’ knife
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has made pearls her signature piece of jewelry. A “power statement” which is much more than a simple fashion statement.
Any woman of power knows it: her outfit (unfortunately) spills as much ink as her job. His solution? Use her outfits to convey messages.
Jewelry, in particular, is a great vehicle. During Donald Trump’s State Visit, Queen Elizabeth II wore a brooch given to him by his predecessor, Barack Obama. To emphasize her identity in a very masculine world, the dean of the American Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the famous ‘RBG’, who died last year), wore jewelry and collars over her strict black dress.
However, few have understood it as well as the new Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris. Since her first appearance with Joe Biden, she has chosen to wear pearls in virtually all of her public appearances.
These “Power Pearls” even sparked a movement on social networks: the day before his inauguration, the hashtag #chucksandpearls (Converse and pearls) spread around the world, showcasing Kamala Harris’ style: pearls and Converse sneakers.
The Facebook group United by pearls, which has nearly half a million members, called for pearls to be worn on his inauguration day. Thus, during the ceremony, which took place last month, impossible to miss a cascade of pearls: apart from Harris, the first lady Jill Biden wore a dress with a collar embroidered with pearls, while Jennifer Lopez had combined her white Chanel suit with large pearl earrings, two pearl bracelets and a mother-of-pearl belt.
Isn’t it paradoxical that pearls are a sure bet for the first vice-president of color, born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father?
Isn’t it paradoxical that pearls are a sure bet for the first vice-president of color, born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father? For decades, fine pearls, a strict tailoring and a neat haircut have been the uniform of the Conservatives: one can quote Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush or the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. So why do we see them today on the representative of diversity in the Biden administration, rather supposed to attract the sympathy of liberal voters?
Harris’s pearls also have a more personal meaning above all, as his predilection for this set dates back to childhood. In her memoirs, which she wrote in 2019, she says that a certain Howard, her mother’s mentor, gave her a pearl necklace from Japan. “Since then, pearls have been one of my favorite pieces of jewelry,” she writes.
But there’s another reason: Harris studied economics and political science at famed Howard University, where she was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, a female academic society (much like civil rights activist Rosa Parks, writer Toni Morrison and singer Ella Fitzgerald). During the initiation, each member receives a brooch adorned with twenty pearls, in reference to the founders of the sorority, called the “Twenty Pearls”. In the 1986 graduation photo, Harris wears a white pearl necklace with matching earrings.
The pearl necklace Harris chose for the investiture ceremony is symbolic too. It was designed by New York-based Puerto Rican designer Wilfredo Rosado, ex-friend and muse of Andy Warhol and ex-fashion director of Giorgio Armani. He launched his own line of luxury jewelry ten years ago and last year he introduced W. Rosado, a contemporary collection of personalized jewelry where each bead is encrusted with a symbol or letter in gold or precious stone.
For the Vice-President, Rosado created a pearl jewel in which he fused the idea of strength and femininity: by combining pearls and diamonds with elliptical links in yellow gold, as a nod to the big ones. channels of hip-hop artists. A concept of jewelry a thousand places from the pearls worn in the past by women of power. Moreover, Rihanna, ASAP Rocky, Pharrell Williams and Harry Styles are today regularly spotted with pearls.
The pearls are also the link with another American power lady. A few years ago, Rosado made a pair of pearl and diamond earrings for Michelle Obama who, as first lady, could not accept the gift. Barack Obama, very gentleman, took the opportunity to offer them to his wife for her birthday. He obviously understood Coco Chanel’s message: “A woman needs strings and strings of pearls.”
Cleopatra’s drinking pearls
It is to Cleopatra that returns the idea of transforming the pearls into lethal weapon. To flaunt Egypt’s wealth in the face of Roman General Marc Antoine, she challenges him to organize the most lavish banquet. The appetizers were quite ordinary, which made the Romain believe he would win easily. But when the result came, a cup of vinegar, he froze when he saw Cleopatra remove one of her pearl earrings to dip it in the vinegar. The pearl dissolves immediately. Cleopatra then empties the cup in one gulp and Marc Antony had to admit defeat: Egypt was much richer than Rome.