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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Adorned for Success: Adele

One-two punch of an Oprah Winfrey interview and a “One Night Only” performance at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, both in advance of the release of her new album on Friday, displays Adele’s command of the art of the image, as well as her message of post-divorce fortitude. This covers her music, her interview, and (yes, even) her outfit choices, among other things.

Although she walked out in her Schiaparelli mermaid gown for her performance, it was her white pantsuit that garnered most attention during her one-on-one interview with Oprah that stole the show.

When she spoke about leaving her marriage “and rediscovering my own happiness,” she wore a white pantsuit. She also talked about the joy of exercising weights, about quitting drinking, about feeling confident in her new self, and about not caring about what other people thought of her appearance.

Women’s emancipation and empowerment have been increasingly connected with the white pantsuit, which has become the one garment most identified with them on the public stage. At this point, it serves more as a symbol than it does as an outfit.

In a simple statement, Adele reminded the world that politics is also a personal matter.

If anybody was under the impression that the garment was a rebellious remnant of the Trump era, this has just served to widen its appeal.

A white pantsuit became cultural shorthand during the 2016 presidential election, when Hillary Clinton took to the stage at the Democratic National Convention to accept her party’s nomination for president, dressed in white Ralph Lauren. She did so in order to draw a direct connection between her position and the history of the suffragists (whose official colours were white) and women’s fight to have their voices heard.

It was subsequently adopted as a uniform by women who were encouraged to vote by using the hashtag #wearwhitetovote during the election itself. Then, during President Donald J. Trump’s first State of the Union address, it was used as a symbol of resistance to his more backward notions about gender equality (even Melania Trump wore a white pantsuit. In a white pantsuit, Nancy Pelosi announced in the corridors of Congress that the House will begin writing articles of impeachment against President Trump; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the cover of Vanity Fair; and Kamala Harris on the day she was elected vice president-elect.

It would look good against the greenery of the garden where her sit-down with Oprah took place — though it’s possible she wasn’t thinking about history at all when she chose to do so. However, it is also true that the outfit she picked, designed by the young Black designer Christopher John Rogers, who had just a few days before the presentation been awarded women’s wear designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, was initially… a skirt suit…. In this case, it was Look 39 from his resort 2022 collection, also known as Collection 008, and it was the only white style in a collection that was generally distinguished by the extensive use of vivid colours.

Adele had it altered so that it could be worn as a pantsuit. Due to the topic of her album, “30,” as well as the Oprah interview, it felt particularly appropriate to mention. Oprah herself changed her dress at the last minute from a bright apricot Sally LaPointe suit to a neutral Brunello Cucinelli suit, demonstrating how important this is.

In particular, given that, as Adele explained to Oprah, she had previously “Never worn white.” “I’m wearing it to show my support for you.”

As a consequence, this sign of togetherness spread beyond the borders of the United States into the rest of the globe.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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