Ella Emhoff Makes Her Runway Debut at New York Fashion Week

Alaina Demopoulos, Tim Teeman
·5 min read
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos via Proenza Schoule/Christian Cowen/Gabriella Hearst
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos via Proenza Schoule/Christian Cowen/Gabriella Hearst

Ella Emhoff, the step-daughter of Kamala Harris, brought very important (and stylish) mullet representation to the Proenza Schouler digital show on the last day of New York Fashion Week. The Parsons student, presidential inauguration breakout star, and newly-signed IMG model was fairly low-key in her runway debut, though her mere presence in the show will clearly draw attention. Her presence was somewhat of a surprise, but not entirely out of nowhere: she spoke on a NYFW panel with Proenza founders Jack McCollugh and Lazaro Hernandez on Wednesday.

There’s a Lot More to Ella Emhoff, Inauguration Star, Than Her Fabulous Coat

Emhoff had previously told the New York Times that she hoped “to bring a bit of Bushwick into the high fashion realm,” referring to her home in one of the most rapidly-gentrifying neighborhoods in the country. And during the Proenza show she certainly embodied the aesthetic of a monied cool person. The pieces were all made in that minimalist, taste-with-a-capital-T style loved by the super rich. Though much has been made of the models numerous tattoos—some of which she inked herself—those were all covered up. Emhoff fit in with the other models and appears to have been IMG-ified...well, except for said cool mullet.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Courtesy Proenza Schouler</div>
Courtesy Proenza Schouler

In one photo, Emhoff wore an oversized gray coat with fur trim on the collar, thrown over matching bellbottoms. She also channeled this season’s unlikely muse, Keanu Reeves, in a Matrix-esque leather trench coat. The last look she wore, an unconventional, asymmetrical black suit was definitely a departure from pantsuit nation or, say, her step-mother's go to styling. Call it liberated power dressing. Alaina Demopoulos

Christian Cowan

<div class="inline-image__credit">Courtesy Christian Cowan</div>
Courtesy Christian Cowan

Christian Cowan, who dressed Lady Gaga before even graduating from Central St. Martins, makes party clothes. So how did he cope when all the parties stopped? His fall collection, presented joyously in a short film sponsored by the Razr flip phone, gives a bit of the answer.

In show notes, Cowan wrote about the idea of community, and how to keep some semblance of one during the pandemic. He found a way by shooting the collection at the Pierre Hotel, in the form of a star-studded fantasy where Paris Hilton urges SNL’s Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman to embrace their inner model. So they join the cast, which includes activist Rachel Cargle and singer Justine Skye, all wearing the glamorous looks inside their own private suites.

The pop singer Slayyyter wrote an original song for the montage, called “It Girl,” that is verifiable bop. Sure, it was a little corporate, with a phone product placement, but overall it was sparkly fun. The outfit Yang ended up in—a lavender sequin pajama set—was absolutely the best. AD

The Blonds

Perennial party people David and Phillipe Blonde presented an ode to their favorite city, New York, for their fall collection. The show, a short film released on Instagram, featured a carousel of their usual “staples” (if thong bodysuits and crystallized onesies could be considered staples). The catch: pieces were “void of color on the surface, but when light refracts off of them it brings forth a new creation, reminding us that all things can transform.”

Did The Blonds, who in the past sent models dressed as Disney villains down the runway, really need such a heady concept? Probably not, but the idea of regeneration feels apt at a time when everyone’s wondering what’s next for New York. If you believe The Blonds, and we all want to, the city will return to all its gilded glory come fall. So get those glutes ready for said thong bodysuit! AD

Zimmermann

“Hippy chic” is an overused phrase, but it perfectly sums up the land of swirls, stars, elaborate patterns, and spirals unspooling all over the luscious designs of Zimmermann. If you have had a tough week, if things are feeling raw, if no good has come out of your day, Zimmermann will take you to a place of lush plum-colored overcoats, mustard yellow suits, maxi-dresses, and the shorter “trim dress” with puffed-out shoulders.

Long leather coats and patent knee boots mean retro business, ruffles lie upon ruffles, and there is a ruched, glittery gown in a surprisingly ravishing shade of chocolate (and a more conventionally lovely navy). And if one dreamy color is not enough for you, Zimmermann—which apologized after a cultural appropriation controversy last month—will pour bands of mint, yellow, orange and pink on to a sundress to make you into your own summer-lovin’ ice cream cone. Tim Teeman

Gabriela Hearst

Gabriela Hearst has had a big year, even in a pandemic. She won the CFDA’s American Womenswear Designer of the Year Award, and Chloé named her as their new Creative Director. Last month, Jill Biden wore a white coat with embroidered flowers at the bottom, each one a nod to the official bud for all 50 states. So, Hearst’s fall collection is somewhat of a victory lap. There were some trappings of the way things used to be—her show, a video dropped on social media and her official site, did not start on time. (“Technical difficulties!” she said in an Instagram live.)

<div class="inline-image__credit">Thomas Concordia</div>
Thomas Concordia

Once the film finally did begin, it was a highly-produced one, with black-and-white money shots of the Brooklyn Bridge. Then it cut to a gigantic empty warehouse, which became the models’ runway. The floor was slick, and with each step water flicked up onto hemlines. Very stressful to watch, considering a Gabriela Hearst dress can go for upwards of $3,000, but it made for some drama.

The clothes came in Hearst’s signature sharply tailored style. There were plenty of long lines, with tea-length pleated skirts and plenty of statement coats. Hearst also played with knitwear, one of this season’s biggest trends, with her signature, feminine-but-not-frilly aplomb. One ensemble in particular—a knit skirt with flower embroidery and matching oversized sweatshirt—was the epitome of pandemic comfort dressing with a bit of pizazz. AD

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