InStyle spoke with Markarian's Alexandra O'Neill about the creation process, as well as the background behind the must-know brand.

By Samantha Sutton
Jan 27, 2021 @ 2:30 pm
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We always knew Dr. Jill Biden would attend the Inauguration wearing something spectacular. Time and time again, the First Lady has proven she has impeccable taste in clothing, whether she's embracing bright colors or opting for bold prints. But, when we realized her matching blue coat and dress were actually Markarian? We were thrilled. InStyle has been a fan of the brand for years, with celebrities like Lucy Hale and Natalia Dyer wearing its whimsical designs for photoshoots. It was almost as if Dr. Biden was silently reassuring us we had good taste, and we felt a burst of excitement around the fact that, finally, thoughtful yet fun fashion had returned to the White House.

Credit: Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images

However, in the fashion world, Markarian is still somewhat new to the scene. It only launched a few short years ago in 2017, and perhaps doesn't have the same household name recognition as, say, a Ralph Lauren — yet. To get you better acquainted, we chatted with designer and founder Alexandra O'Neill. She told us all about how Markarian began, and even spilled on the process behind Dr. Jill Biden's now-history outfit — which nearly looked completely different — including sharing behind-the-scenes photos.

So, without further ado, here are eight things to know about Markarian.

The Brand Is Only a Few Years Old

Courtesy of Markarian

Alexandra O'Neill: "I started the line in 2017, and we basically launched as just an occasion-wear brand. I wanted to make clothing for people that was beautifully made, made in New York, whimsical and ethereal, but also very wearable. That was kind of the basis of the brand. And, it's just been slowly growing, especially since we launched bridal in 2019 — that's been a huge part of our business. We make everything to order in New York and we have our private client business that we also work on. We do custom pieces for our clients that come into our New York City showroom."

The Designs Are Statement-Making and Often Include Some Sparkle

Credit: Courtesy of Markarian

AO: "We do a lot of prints, sequins, and crystals. We are also expanding our knitwear this season again, which is really exciting. It's all sustainable and made out of recycled cashmere. So, that's something to look forward to that we're really excited about. A lot of elevated, more relaxed things. We still have our beautiful dresses, but the fits are a bit easier and more relaxed, I would say."

The Brand Began Working on Dr. Jill Biden’s Look in December

AO: "[Her team] reached out to us in December, along with a number of other designers. They were looking for initial sketches and ideas, and then the look just evolved from there. They gave us an idea of what Dr. Biden likes to wear — certain silhouettes that she's drawn to and colors that she likes. But other than that, they were pretty open to any suggestions or ideas that we had. They gave us a lot of creative liberty, so that was really nice."

…But She Almost Wore Something Completely Different

Credit: Courtesy of Markarian

AO: "We sent in a bunch of different sketches. Then, we had a nice dialogue back and forth, and just kind of settled on one of them. We made it happen from there."

The First Lady’s Style Falls in Line with the Markarian Brand

Credit: Courtesy of Markarian

AO: "She's pretty classic and feminine. She always dresses beautifully, but definitely more on the feminine side, which I think is really nice and definitely part of our brand aesthetic."

The Inauguration Outfit Was Top Secret (Kind Of)

Credit: Courtesy of Markarian

AO: "It was all confidential. I told my parents though, obviously. That was okay. They're not going to tell anyone. They've been locked up in their house for a year."

It’s Possible Even More Markarian In the Biden Family’s Future

AO: "I'd love to work with her again. It would be such an honor. Two of the granddaughters — Finnegan and Natalie — both wore Markarian dresses that night, too."

…And, the Brand Is Continuing to Work on Big Things

Credit: Courtesy of Markarian

AO: "We have our Fall '21 collection coming up in the next couple of weeks. We're doing our photoshoot for it on Saturday, and then it will be available for pre-order on Moda Operandi the second week of February. So, that's kind of what's immediately next. I always draw inspiration from things that I want to wear, what my friends want to wear, and even what my mom wants to wear. So, I'm just looking at what feels right, what feels comfortable while still being in the Markarian spirit. I still like to get dressed up, it's just a little bit harder these days."