How Markarian Became A part of Naomi Biden’s Wedding Day—and a Favorite of the First Family

For her first big fashion moment, Alexandra O’Neill was locked down, pre-vaccine, and totally alone save for her dog. When newly-minted First Lady Dr. Jill Biden appeared at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021 wearing a turquoise coat and dress designed by her brand, Markarian, she—and the label—became famous overnight. Nearly two years later, when the couple’s granddaughter, Naomi Biden, wore a custom Markarian dress to her wedding reception, seen here for the primary time, O’Neill was on vacation along with her family, eagerly awaiting the photos that will show her work at the guts of one other historic event.

Naomi Biden in Markarian with custom Larroudé shoes.

Corbin Gurkin

Getting the decision that Naomi desired to work along with her on a bit for her after-party was a thrill for O’Neill, and sign of an ongoing relationship with the primary family that has been tremendously meaningful for her business and her life. “The stylist Bailey Moon, who’s so wonderful and who I’ve gotten really close with over the past couple of years, approached us—oh my gosh, was it a few months ago?—and asked if we could be enthusiastic about working with them again,” recalls O’Neill. “That was an enormous, big yes, because they’ve been so wonderful to us and so supportive of Markarian, and clearly, we said that we could be honored to work with them again on something so big.”

naomi biden wedding markarian

Naomi Biden and her husband, Peter Neal.

Corbin Gurkin

When Biden and Moon visited O’Neill’s studio for fittings, they were very clear about their vision. “[Naomi] wanted something that was fun [and] that was going to be easy to vary into after wearing all of her more formal looks for the ceremony and rehearsal dinner. She wanted something that had numerous movement, that was going to be easy to bop in,” O’Neill says. “We talked about some sparkly looks and a few short dresses and something with a bit more detail to it, and ultimately settled on a bit hand-beaded fringe minidress. We added some really beautiful bows and satin with little trains coming off. It was really form of the right combination of something that was fun, but additionally special and classic.” Ten of O’Neill’s team members also worked on the dress, which featured hand-done beadwork that was hand-sewn onto the bodice. “We worked really closely together on this,” she added.

naomi biden markarian

Naomi Biden.

Corbin Gurkin

The project was a joy for O’Neill, 36, and a possibility to work with one other young talent whose business was lifted in its early days by the Bidens. “Bailey does such a ravishing, wonderful job with all the pieces, and I’m so impressed by him, because that’s such an enormous undertaking on such a worldwide level.” For his part, Moon only began working as a stylist in 2020, after a profession working on the business side of brands like Gabriela Hearst and Rodarte.

naomi biden markarian

Naomi Biden.

Corbin Gurkin

O’Neill predicts the marriage will supercharge her bridal business, just because the inauguration did for her ready-to-wear line. When the First Lady tapped her to design her search for the historic day, Markarian was a virtually four-year-old business that was popular amongst celebrities, but hardly one with a stronghold on the style world. “Few—or none, perhaps—would have predicted that Dr. Biden would walk out into the cold Washington morning on Wednesday in an identical blue coat and dress by Markarian, a small Latest York City brand whose typical aesthetic signatures include feather trims and full-body sequins,” the Latest York Times wrote on the time. Moda Operandi reported a 570 percent increase in traffic to Markarian on the location following the inauguration, and retailers saw sales grow by as much as 500 percent, O’Neill told Insider. Lower than two years later, her colourful, embellished ensembles have develop into go-tos for the style set.

Being seen world wide dramatically transformed Markarian as a brand. “You don’t realize until it happens, just how impactful it’s. Now that we’re a bit bit out from it, I believe it completely modified our business. We were really launched into a worldwide highlight on such an enormous scale that it completely modified us, endlessly,” O’Neill says, of being chosen for the inauguration. “I actually couldn’t imagine it at first. I used to be so hopeful that it could find yourself being us and so honored, but I just think it was really wonderful that [the First Lady] decided to decide on such a small brand, and it shows that she really understood the impact that call could have on any person’s company—or really, any person’s life.”

washington, dc   january 20 president joe biden and first lady dr jill biden wave as they arrive at the north portico of the white house, on january 20, 2021, in washington, dc during todays inauguration ceremony joe biden became the 46th president of the united states photo by alex brandon poolgetty images

The First Lady wears a coat and dress by Markarian at President Biden’s inauguration.


O’Neill added sparkle to a highly anticipated day, which got here during a very dreary month stuffed with heartbreaking disease and political violence. Fashion had been all but forgotten for nearly a 12 months, and latest looks were few and much between. “[The inauguration] was really special, and it was really a breath of fresh air,” says O’Neill. “It was something that folks were really looking forward to and so enthusiastic about for multiple reasons. Everybody had been really locked down and at home and never doing anything very exciting, so it was really such a moment for everyone to look at and feel invested in.”

washington, dc   january 20  us president joe biden, first lady jill biden and their family pose at the lincoln memorial where the president participated in a televised ceremony on january 20, 2021 in washington, dc  biden was sworn in today as the 46th president  photo by joshua roberts poolgetty images

The Biden family on the evening of the inauguration. Natalie (second from left) and Finnegan Biden (third from right) are wearing Markarian.


The event marked a monumental moment and likewise signaled a return of fashion to the White House, following a tense 4 years by which many designers went public about their unwillingess to decorate Melania Trump. In her decision to wear Markarian, Dr. Biden made clear that, like Michelle Obama before her, she could be an advocate for the industry, aware that her clothing decisions could greatly lift the careers of designers. “I knew that she desired to work with a female-founded company, she desired to support a designer that made things within the States,“ O’Neill says.

maisy biden, finnegan biden, heidi gardner

Maisy and Finnegan Biden, Naomi’s sisters, with SNL’s Heidi Garner at Markarian’s fall 2022 runway show.

Mike Vitelli/

Designing for various generations was nothing latest for O’Neill, a Colorado native who was taught to stitch at a young age by her grandmother, who lived along with her family and nurtured her interest in design. “I’ve at all times had her in my life. I’d make all of her clothing for her, actually. I’d make all of her pieces for my brother and sister’s weddings, or for any events that we needed to go to, and a few daytime looks for her. I’d make her coats and all the pieces,” O’Neill explains. That work honed her ability to decorate all ages. Several weeks ago, she lost her grandmother, who was 95.

O’Neill is reflective concerning the way things have unfolded for her, and effusive about her appreciation of the primary family’s sustained loyalty to her work. “[The Bidens] have at all times been very supportive and type and thoughtful; really easy to work with, which I believe is absolutely rare with numerous clients. They’re very collaborative, but they’re also really great because they select the people they work with put their trust in them. It’s nice to have the ability to work with any person closely on something, but then to also get to do what you do best.”

Associate Editor

Adrienne Gaffney is an associate editor at ELLE who previously worked at WSJ Magazine and Vanity Fair.

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