Ella Emhoff, new second daughter of the United States, rocked up to Joe Biden’s inauguration in bedazzled Miu Miu, leather, and a crisp white collar the size of a seagull.
In the midst of chaos, apprehension, and transition, one fact is clear: Ella Emhoff has cemented her status as a major textile icon of the Biden-Harris administration. The 22-year-old, whose father, Doug Emhoff, married brand-new vice president Kamala Harris in 2014, found herself in a crowd of remarkable dressers. Wednesday’s inauguration—more than any in living memory—might as well have taken place on the red carpet. But even so, Emhoff was a standout.
The inauguration was beautiful and moving, and also kind of normcore. The new president wore Ralph Lauren and called, appropriately, for unity. The Obamas looked, as they always do, like the most popular seniors who graduated the year before, returning during winter break for a victory lap. Lady Gaga did her Lady Gaga thing. J.Lo did her J.Lo thing. Social media “yas kweened,” and blew up with references to Hamilton, The Hunger Games, and Parks and Recreation. Sweet, soothing—but squarely 2010s. And then there was Emhoff.
Styled by Joseph Charles Viola, she wore a scarlet prairie dress from New York ready-to-wear brand Batsheva, topped with a spangled Miu Miu coat that glittered in the wintry sun. Her leather gloves looked sharp and classic. Her embroidered collar fluttered gently in the wind—the inauguration fashion that launched a thousand Etsy shops.
Emhoff, it bears mentioning, is a studying textiles at Parson’s School of Design. She runs a mini business, producing one-off brightly colored handmade knitwear. (Commissions are currently closed. Can’t imagine what’s keeping her busy!)
We shouldn’t be surprised she owned fashion at the inauguration—this is a woman who once knit herself a full Blue’s Clues costume, then positioned it on the ’Gram next to a picture of herself wearing a knit bikini top and bucket hat and exposing one unshaved armpit to show off a matching knit purse. She’s kept her style during public appearances chic but muted during the campaign, and the Biden-Harris victory, it seems, is her chance to finally be herself. On the eve of the inauguration, she dressed semi-androgynous, in a fitted oxford, preppy tie, military-style coat, and updated schoolgirl skirt from Thom Browne.
And on inauguration morning, she gave us everything: curls! Wire-rim glasses! One ginormous button! The severe military style of her coat, gloves, and boots provided thrilling juxtaposition to the hyperfemininity of her embroidered collar and glittering accents. The black headband gave pulled-out-of-the-glove-compartment-of-the-station-wagon-before-church ’90s energy. And when Mike Pence took to the dais, Emhoff, generously, gave us a priceless reaction GIF. Gen Z has officially entered the White House.
She’s in good company. Emhoff twinned with the vice president’s niece Meena Harris, who paired an emerald brocade prairie dress, also from Batsheva, with gloriously bedazzled silver stiletto boots. Michelle Obama was grown-up Chicago winter Wonder Woman, with power waves and a belt for the ages. Kamala Harris looked like a leader in all purple—likely a nod to the combination of red and blue.