While Kamala Harris is known for breaking glass ceilings in white Converse sneakers, the public is also taking note of her family members’ sartorial choices. Take Ella Emhoff, whose stylish appearance at the 2021 Presidential inauguration has transformed her from an artsy Brooklynite to an overnight fashion darling.
Learn more about Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter and find out why she should be prepared for a whirlwind of a year.
Who Is Ella Emhoff?
Ella Emhoff, born on May 29, 1999, is the second child and only daughter of Doug and Kerstin Emhoff. She is also the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, whom she lovingly refers to as “Momala.” Ella’s parents divorced when she was 8 or 9, and by all accounts, growing up with two moms was twice the joy.
“They have good communication between the three of them,” Ella told the New York Times in January 2021. “They are really a unit, like a three-person parenting squad. It’s really cool.”
But it was also sometimes twice as mortifying.
“[Kerstin] and I became a duo of cheerleaders in the bleachers at Ella’s swim meets and basketball games, often to Ella’s embarrassment,” Harris told Elle in 2019. “We sometimes joke that our modern family is almost a little too functional.”
Ella is currently a senior studying fine arts at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City. Dubbed “The First Daughter of Bushwick” (a Brooklyn neighborhood), she’s consumed by creative pursuits: designing knitwear and accessories, modeling, and painting. She doesn’t shy away from sharing her quirky style with an ever-growing number of followers on social media.
Ella Emhoff Was The Fashion Star Of Inauguration Night
When Ella appeared alongside her big brother Cole on Inauguration Day, her outfit made headlines. She braved the cold weather in a fitted houndstooth plaid Miu Miu coat with an oversized collar and crystal embellishments. Beneath, she wore a burgundy dress with puffed shoulders and a ruffled hem made by NYC designer Bathsheva. The look took some serious planning. Ella employed the help of celebrity stylists Jill and Jordan; she also provided inspiration images for them to work with.
“My mood board was very ‘little girl,’ in a sense, a lot of scalloped collars and big silhouette shoulders and small buttons,” Ella told Vogue in January 2021. “I was going for something girlier, to embrace my feminine side—especially after that suit that I felt so great in—because, like, how many times do you prepare yourself to attend an inauguration? This momentous of an event deserves a momentous outfit.”
The results were met with rave reviews. Fashionista called her the inauguration’s “unexpected style star.” CNN concurred, calling the “breakout fashion star” of the event. Not that people hadn’t already caught on to the fact that she’s one to watch—in the days leading up to January 20, Ella’s Instagram following spiked from 50,000 to 300,000 followers.
Ella Emhoff Just Signed A Major Modeling Deal
IMG Models couldn’t help but notice the buzz surrounding Ella. At the end of January, the exclusive agency seized the chance to represent her and announced a deal on social media.
“Ella communicates this moment in time,” Ivan Bart, president of IMG Models, told the New York Times. “There’s a cheekiness and a joy she exudes … What she wore [to the inauguration] and who she was that day was in line with the person I met. That’s why everyone noticed her.”
Bart added that the agency envisions opportunities that suit Ella’s unique personality. Instead of typical runway shows, which are normally booked for fellow IMG talent like Gigi and Bella Hadid, “[Bart] named a fashion spread, a brand association, and a podcast as possibilities.”
Ella confessed that she never imagined herself in this position. Her family also expressed some concern about the job. “Modeling can be a pretty intense industry—they were a little protective of me,” she said. But she doesn’t just see modeling as an opportunity to wear fabulous clothes and hobnob—it’s also a chance to raise awareness for causes she cares about.
“I’m excited to share a lot of things I really care about, and do some good,” said Ella. “There are a lot of people out there that need a lot of help. If I can do anything to help with that, I want to, and I think this opportunity will be really beneficial toward that.”
Ella Emhoff Knits Her Own Clothes And Does Her Own Tattoos
A look at her Instagram quickly tells you that Ella doesn’t fit the outdated mold of a pinup model. Ella was described by Vice as “being a bit of an emo kid” growing up; now she’s an eccentric 21-year-old who likes disco, Naruto, and slow fashion.
She’s also into tattoos. Ella’s into the stick-and-poke method, which swaps an electric needle for a slower, manual method. She currently has 18, some of which she gave to herself.
“I recently did my first big boy: [a] salmon fish with a flower hanging out of its mouth,” she told Vice. “It’s super fun. I don’t think it’s something I would ever want to pursue [professionally], but it’s fun to just do it to yourself or do it to a friend. And if you can do it, definitely go for it.”
We’re happy to see that such a creative, free-thinking young lady is now representing the Second Family.