the moment

The Rise of Ella Emhoff, Newly Minted Style Star

Emma Emhoff. Jacket, Vest, Shirt, and Shoes by Gucci. Socks (worn throughout) by Celine by Hedi Slimane.

The allure of New York City is the promise of transforming one’s anonymous mortal life into a life of, at best, notoriety and, at even better, infamy. Andy Warhol burst that bubble when he said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” And yet, every young person who moves to New York today over Omaha, Charlotte, or Austin has chosen fantasy over a potentially more comforting reality.

That fantasy, as it intersects with our reality, is what makes Ella Emhoff, stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, such a singularly interesting figure in a new New York where dreams, like many of the city’s most cherished residents, spent the last year in hibernation. Emhoff’s newfound fame, rooted in our country’s need for some light after the darkness of the past 12 months, has cast her, for better or worse, as America’s Daughter.

Dress by Loewe. Shoes (worn throughout) by Gucci.


The sense that Emhoff has somehow been cast by powers, not only of the state, but also in the world of “liberal media,” is obvious to anyone with an internet connection. The light, lightness, and generosity that many of us felt on the day of the inauguration—as a young Black woman read a poem, a pop star proclaimed “Let’s get loud!” and a masked woman with curly hair from Bushwick smized behind her glasses in a Miu Miu coat—could not last forever. Or even that long. Light can only fend off the darkness for but a little while.

Yet Emhoff, who has continued to lead her life as a young fashion student at Parsons, seems unfazed by perceptions. Rather, on social media, she seems to continue to walk, whether in the dark or the light, toward that youthful fantasy of a life in New York where one is rarely in control of how the city casts you, so long as you’re cast.

Vest, Shirt, and Pants by Prada. Glasses (worn throughout) Ella’s Own.

I often wonder as I look at her modeling her snug-fitting knits on Instagram how I would navigate the unprecedented role she’s been tasked to play. It is a part that inspires both envy and terror for reasons too numerous to name, chief among them the fact that the anonymity the city promises was ripped away the minute her stepmother’s name was placed next to our country’s current president.

In a moment when our politics, and those with whom we share a lineage, are constantly critiqued, to be proudly aligned with any political figure is an invitation for vitriol. To witness a young woman access the bravery to confront that vitriol, to not divert from her path, is captivating. If only because it’s still too early to know if the role she is playing will lead to passing notoriety or true infamy, and, moreover, if Ella Emhoff even cares.

Dress by Kenzo. Necklace by Bvlgari.

Shirt by Celine by Hedi Slimane.


Top and Pants by Loewe.


Blazer and Shirt by Celine by Hedi Slimane. Glasses Emma’s Own.



Model: Ella Emhoff at IMG

Hair: Tsuki using Redken at Streeters 

Makeup: Dick Page at Statement Artists 

Set Design: Eric Mestman 

Location: Florian Krewer’s Eyes on Fire Exhibition at Tramps NYC 

Production: Spencer Morgan Taylor at SN37 Agency

Manicure: Honey at Exposure NY 

Photography Assistant: Matchull Summers and Donna Viering 

 Assistants: Caroline Gillen and Gregory Miller

Set Design Assistant: Beau Bourgeois

Production Coordinator: Benjamin Gutierrez 

Special Thanks: Lizzi Bougatsos