Vice President Kamala Harris was mocked after her step-daughter, Ella Emhoff, who is also the daughter of Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, was baring her chest during a fashion show. At the 2022 Harper’s Bazaar Icons & Bloomingdale’s 150th Anniversary, the 21-year-old exclusively spoke with PEOPLE. The magazine named Ella an Icon, which means she is a young person who is making an impact on the world through their ideas and their art. However, critics of Kamala Harris don’t believe the step-daughter who often has hairy armpits is any sort of ‘icon’ at all.
Baring one’s chest when your step-mother is the Vice President isn’t the most iconic vibe to give off, particularly in terms of being professional and representing your family.
Emhoff was named an icon and claimed to be surprised by the honor, as she told PEOPLE, and that she is taking it seriously. “It’s kind of shocking. 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,” she said. Emhoff said that even so, 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. 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,” she explained.
Saying that she doesn’t have a specific goal for her fashion career, Emhoff said she wants to work with people she finds inspiring in the moment, said Yahoo News.
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“So what I like now could be completely different from what I like next season. 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,” said Emhoff.
Emhoff said she is keeping her plans for the future “loose” and “open,” as she is also a graduate of the prestigious Parsons School of Design, where she studied fine arts with a concentrated focus on apparel and textiles.
She emphasized, saying: “The only way to make it in this industry is to keep a level head, keep expectations level.” Thom Browne is what both of Emhoff and Hine were wearing, Emhoff in a teal, a floral ensemble with pants, jacket, shoes, and purse embroidered with flowers, while her green socks were floral as well. Leaving her curls down, she wore a lace top and wearing her signature round glasses. While Hine wore a dark suit and tie, white button-down tucked into shorts paired and boots.
She still gets nervous walking for runway shows, as she said, even the one she had come from an hour prior.
“It’s the moment right before you go on where you kind of blackout and then your stomach is all butterfly-y and your palms get sweaty — and after you’re done, it feels it’s the greatest feeling ever,” shared Emhoff.
The 28-year-old Hine said that “i was at the show,” while also adding that he considers Emhoff the voice of a generation, and a “really important one,” through her advocacy for slow fashion and homemade, hand-knit Etsy shop.
“What always impresses me most about everything she does is she has her own way and through the lens of personal style. You know, others, they wear whatever and in this position, they do what people tell them to do, and she is no pushover you know, she knows herself really, really well and what’s going on inside,” said Hine.