A gold necklace worn by Michelle Obama for her Democratic national convention speech has gone viral. The By Chari piece is made up of four letters spelling 'vote' and is available in 14K yellow, rose, and white gold in small, large, or diamond letters.
The former First Lady shared a powerful call to action via her social media channels, pledging her allegiance to Democratic candidate Joe Biden and strongly criticising Donald Trump in the build-up to the forthcoming US election in November. The 18-minute video showed Obama wearing a fine gold necklace that compounded her sentiment - vote, and have your say in what happens next.
The piece was by LA-based, black-owned label By Chari, founded by designer and creative director Chari Cuthbert. Within hours of the release of Obama's speech, the 'vote necklace' went viral, quickly becoming a top US Google search term. Footwear News has already called it “the must-have accessory of 2020.”
"I never imagined that something I'm so passionate about could mean so much to so many," tweeted Cuthbert. "The response has been incredible and I am beyond honored and humbled that @michelleobama wore my design."
I never imagined that something I'm so passionate about could mean so much to so many! The response has been incredible and I am beyond honored and humbled that @michelleobama wore my design. pic.twitter.com/rbkEZ7HUei— BYCHARI (@ByChari) August 18, 2020
Obama has long been aware of the scrutiny her wardrobe receives and how to maximise such attention for good. She understands the power of a visual and, while her husband was president, often used it as leverage to define who she was and what the administration stood for. During her years as First Lady, she regularly wore a mix of rising and established designers, raising the profiles of many marginalised labels. She was famously one of the first White House women to wear J Crew, signalling to Americans that she was relatable and accessible. Obama made what she wore meaningful.
"I tried to reframe [the attention] as an opportunity to learn, to use what power I could find inside a situation," said Obama in her bestselling memoir, Becoming.
Her decision to wear the By Chari necklace is a continuation of her commitment to maximising the power of the image, and using it as a tool for good. If anyone was unclear about Obama's messaging, her necklace spelt it out.
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