This story was originally published on August 18, 2020.
Michelle Obama closed out the opening night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention on Monday with a speech that somehow both calmed our nerves about the upcoming election and impassioned us to build an America that we can be proud of. “If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” she said in her conclusion. And in true Obama fashion, words weren’t the only mode of expression she used. For the event, Obama wore a gold necklace that spelled the word “VOTE.”
Personalized for the former first lady by Jamaica-born, L.A.-based jewelry designer Chari Cuthbert, the necklace quickly became the talk of the internet, so much so that during the last hour of the convention, it was the top-trending search on US Google, according to CNN. Cuthbert’s brand, BYCHARI, which launched in 2012, specializes in custom-made pieces designed using top-grade materials. According to her website, Cuthbert’s creations are designed to uplift women, making them a favorite to many a powerful woman, from former Teen Vogue EIC Elaine Welteroth, who in 2016 became both the youngest and the first Black woman ever to hold the position in Condé Nast’s history, to now, Michelle Obama.
Obama’s personalized chain was crafted out of 14k yellow gold and costs $315. BYCHARI, though, also sells a pre-made VOTE necklace for $295. "I had created a VOTE necklace for the last election and knew I was going to do it again,” says Cuthbert in a statement. “As we started our outreach, I was honored when Michelle Obama's stylist asked for one and am thrilled she is wearing it!” Obama paired the necklace with hoop earrings from the brand and a brown, satin wrap top from Nanushka, a sustainable label from Budapest.
This is hardly the first time that Obama and her longtime stylist Meredith Koop have chosen to champion independent brands for public appearances. Following her tenure as the first lady, Obama spotlighted Black-owned brands like Pyer Moss and Cushnie. Later, while traveling throughout Scandinavia for her Becoming book tour last year, Obama chose to wear local brands, including Danish sustainable label Stine Goya for her stop in Copenhagen; Stockholm-based brand Acne Studios in Sweden; and Dundas, a Norwegian label by designer Peter Dundas, in Oslo.
Even so, this sartorial move by the former first lady feels bigger and more significant than the rest, which explains why it’s garnering so much hype. With just 11 weeks until the 2020 presidential election, time is of the essence — especially when President Trump is dead set on defunding the US Postal Service. So, for heaven’s sake, follow Obama’s lead and vote like your life depends on it. And if you need a reminder, head over to bychari.com to get your very own VOTE necklace today.
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