Ella Emhoff on being named a fashion icon: I don’t think of myself like that

Ella Emhoff, stepdaughter of VP Kamala Harris and daughter of Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, was named an icon by Harper’s Bazaar. Ella is a 21-year-old Parsons School of Design grad who started getting a lot attention for her style after the inauguration in 2021. She landed a IMG modeling contract later that month. Anyway, at the party for Harper’s, Ella spoke exclusively to People about receiving the honor — she’s surprised and flattered because she never really saw herself that way.

Ella Emhoff, stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris and daughter of Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, is navigating her new “icon” status.

The 21-year-old spoke exclusively with PEOPLE at the 2022 Harper’s Bazaar Icons & Bloomingdale’s 150th Anniversary party on Friday. Ella was named an icon by the magazine, meaning she is a young person who is making an impact on the world through their ideas and their art.

Emhoff told PEOPLE she is surprised by the honor, and is taking it seriously.

“It’s kind of shocking,” she said. “This is an incredible honor and as someone who doesn’t really think of herself like that it’s nice reassurance. And makes me check myself and the way I perceive myself, so exciting.”

Even so, Emhoff said it isn’t quite sinking in that she is a fashion inspiration.

“I do understand the position and it’s so exciting, and I’m so grateful,” she explained. “But for some reason, I feel like I’m seeing myself from the outside, like it’s a very interesting experience that I will never forget. And it’s exciting. I feel like every day it sinks in a little more. It’s a slow process.”

Emhoff said she wants to work with people she finds inspiring in the moment, saying that she doesn’t have a specific goal for her fashion career.

“So what I like now could be completely different from what I like next season,” Emhoff said. “So I just like the process and the journey of it, and I’ve already got to walk for so many great designers like Miu Miu, Balenciaga, Proenza — those are already above and beyond my lists.”

A graduate of the prestigious Parsons School of Design, where she studied fine arts with a concentrated focus on apparel and textiles, Emhoff said she is keeping her plans for the future “loose” and “open.” Emhoff said she is making an effort not to put too much pressure on the future, and that avoiding stress is a priority.

“The only way to make it in this industry is to keep a level head, keep expectations level,” she emphasized.

She said she still gets nervous walking for runway shows, even the one she had come from an hour prior.

[From People]

It’s a pretty cool honor for Ella to receive: an icon at only 21-years-old after only being on “the scene” for around two years! Over the weekend, Ella walked in Prabal Gurung’s New York Fashion Week show at UN Plaza and much was made of her bare boob. Whatever, it’s just a boob and it’s fashion. Ella has also already walked for Miu Miu, Balenciaga, and Proenza, and attended the Met Gala last year. Both Ella and her boyfriend were wearing Thom Browne at the anniversary party, and he rather adorably gushed over her to the People reporter. He said that she’s different from other models because she doesn’t cover her tattoos or shave her armpits (or pluck her unibrow), but I think that just makes her very Gen Z? Ella talked about trying to keep a level head and not putting too much pressure on the future, but noted she still gets nervous about walking runway shows. Seems like she a good thing going with the modeling, but she also has her Parsons degree to fall back on.

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28 Responses to “Ella Emhoff on being named a fashion icon: I don’t think of myself like that”

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  1. HandforthParish says:

    One word- nepotism.

    I get it, she’s ‘edgy’ and fashion, but she is not a model.

    I might be very wrong, but I get Lena Dunham vibes from her.

    • manda says:

      ITA. And I just don’t think any of the stuff she’s worn has been particularly great looking. That top in the first pic looks like something you’d get at an airport gift store or at a stall at a small town arts fest.

    • Mcmmom says:

      Well duh, of course it’s nepotism – her dad is the Second Gentlemen of the US. I’m not sure where you’re getting Lena Dunham vibes – she’s been nothing but lovely in every conversation I’ve read with her and she doesn’t come off as completely self absorbed, unlike quite a few political or entertainment offspring. Just because she’s very much of her generation doesn’t mean she’s trying to be the spokesperson for her generation, like Lena.

    • Eurydice says:

      Is she edgy? She pretty much looks like every student who moved into town for fall semester.

    • Blue Nails Betty says:

      Oh good, I thought I was missing something. All I see is a pretty young woman with famous parents and who walks around in ugly unflattering clothes.

      But good for her for following her goals.

  2. Pointillist says:

    Nepo baby outchea

  3. Nance says:

    Because she isn’t…sorry.

  4. shanaynay says:

    Yeah, well I don’t think of her as that way either. Sorry!

    People shouldn’t get jobs just because of who they are, or who they know. That isn’t fair to everyone else who has tried their hardest, and got passed over, because of who so and so’s parents are. These nepotism children should work harder for it, and not be given the job just because you’re a family member of _______________. Most of these nepotism children are only models because of who their parents are. Some just shouldn’t be in the profession, because they just don’t have the same IT factor that their ___________ had.

  5. Lemons says:

    Don’t worry, girl. No one else thinks of you as an icon. All you need to know is right here:

    A graduate of the prestigious Parsons School of Design, where she studied fine arts with a concentrated focus on apparel and textiles, Emhoff said she is keeping her plans for the future “loose” and “open.” Emhoff said she is making an effort not to put too much pressure on the future, and that avoiding stress is a priority.

    In short, she hasn’t done anything. Maybe her IG is iconic.

    • Red says:

      As someone who does not come from a rich family and graduated with massive student loan debt, I’m so jealous she’s able to keep her future loose and open to avoid stress lol. Money really does buy happiness, you can’t convince me otherwise

  6. Veda says:

    When I saw the thumbnail of this article I swear I thought it was Daniel Radcliffe!

  7. Emmi says:

    People are really using “icon” and “iconic” wrong these days. The girl has famous and powerful parents and apparently that’s all you need these days. She’s not the first or the last but having connections does not an icon make.

  8. Tutorina says:

    No strong feelings either way about her, but she’s not a model. Nepotism played a part in Harper Bazaar’s decision here. When it comes to WH kids in the past, Malia Obama always struck me as having a model look. It is a testament to the family that Malia has always put her time and focus into her education.

  9. florencia says:

    Yikes, does this label do this poor woman a disservice! I suspect most people don’t even know who she is, so labeling her an “icon” is wildly premature and seems to be only turning people against her (based on the responses here so far). She may have great talent, but let her demonstrate that first. Harpers, before blowing your wad, FFS!!

  10. green tea says:

    Nepotism indeed… another young woman who is more deserving probably was overlooked or sidelined.

  11. Driver8 says:

    I’m happy the modeling industry is veering towards unconventional beauties, but this woman isn’t it. If she were related to a Republican, she wouldn’t have a contract.

  12. Southern Fried says:

    I find her very interesting and odd. I like that she has a very ordinary look that can be dressed up, make-up and become quite striking. Yes, she’s Doug Emhoff’s daughter and our Vice President’s step daughter, first noticed at the inauguration but so what. Nepotism is certainly nothing new in the fashion industry.

  13. Riemc526 says:

    Shirts like the one in the 1st pic were super common in late 90s/early 00s, as were shirts with whimsical bows. So many people wore one pant leg up in the 90s. The one outfit looks a bit appropriation-y. She’s like 30 yrs too late to be a fashion icon.

    • clarabelle says:

      But, remember that the 90’s are cool again amongst her generation. Many are buy-nothing-new adherents and revel in odd and 2nd hand clothes.

      I think she looks odd, but comfortable and unapologetic and in interviews she comes off as a rather humble and authentic individual. I assume she’s an admirer of Tavi Gevinson who made a (rather funny) fetish of ugly clothes in her blog Style Rookie.

  14. Kim says:

    The comments here – Ouch! Unfortunately this post didn’t use any of her runway shots. I thought she looked great, and I was applauding adding models who don’t look starved, plucked, weaved, and botoxed. Which is what I saw in the Vogue World runway shots a short while ago. Yes they had Serena Williams, Lori Harvey, and Erykah Badu, but for the most part they all looked the same.

    I look forward to something different. And I thought Ella looked cool and real. And I applaud that.

  15. Winechampion says:

    Agree with all the comments here. Not a model, not interesting. She looks like every 21 year-old.

  16. Nicole says:

    Wow the comments here! Let me be the first to say that it’s really hard to get anywhere without connections. I found that out when I went to grad school. Every mixer was about networking. Did she have a built in advantage? Sure, but trust if she wasn’t booking IMG wouldn’t keep her on roster. Is she ICONIC? I don’t think so. But her unapologetic look in the world of the other nepo models and conventional beauty, makes her appropriately edgy and will allow her to get work. She is perfect for the Vivienne Westwood’s and D Squareds of the world. Ladies take a chill pill. It’s not that serious.

  17. Case says:

    I feel like people take issue with this particular example of nepotism because while of course many presidents’ and vice presidents’ children hugely benefit from their parents’ status, many of them use those connections to pursue a great education and long-term career. Modeling is not really as admirable as what many White House kids have pursued, and as many have noted, she’s is a lovely but very normal-looking person.

  18. tealily says:

    She seems cool though. Nice to see some normal models. She’s under such a huge amount of pressure and scrutiny, I hope she can use this to take a stab at something she cares about and keep a level head about it.

  19. Jennifer says:

    I like her because she does her own thing and she’s a yarnie, but I do kinda doubt she’d be a model and get this much hype were she not the stepdaughter of the vice president. She’s a nerdgirl and god knows nerdgirls aren’t valued for their looks or style otherwise.

  20. whoohey says:

    She’s a nepotism kid but has directed a lot of the attention that’s come her way to the knitwear and crafts she was already creating. She seems nice and humble.

  21. Coycoyote says:

    Do people not know what nepotism means? Her family is not in the fashion business and did not give her the modeling job. Certainly having the parents she does gives her an advantage due to being in the public eye, but that’s not nepotism.

    Anyway, she seems nice and I appreciate her style. Very awkward-chic.