Behind Ella Emhoff’s Memorable Inauguration Look

Ella Emhoff
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Cole and Ella Emhoff (in Miu Miu), the children of second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, at the inauguration on Jan. 20.

The stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris was a fashion highlight of the day in a Miu Miu coat with glittery embellishments.

“This inauguration was an especially historic day,” say stylists Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson in a joint email to The Hollywood Reporter, of dressing Ella Emhoff, the daughter of second gentleman Douglas Emhoff and the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris at the inauguration Wednesday. “We were very proud to be involved in the smallest possible way as stylists and as Americans.”

Emhoff wore an embellished Miu Miu coat and custom burgundy Batsheva dress, a look that instantly went viral on Twitter. The buzz focused around the glittery embellishments of the wool coat, which features a crisp white collar and cinched waist.

The duo — who oversaw the styling studio for Rachel Zoe for four years before leaving to consult and style red carpets and editorial campaigns — met Emhoff and her mother, Kerstin, via Zoom shortly before Christmas. Emhoff, who is currently enrolled at Parsons School of Design, has a strong personal style, which inspired Lincoln and Johnson.

“[Ella] is so passionate, excited and wants to have fun, take risks and express herself through the clothes she wears,” the stylists wrote. “We were both fashion students, so it’s a great reminder and quite refreshing to see this process through the eyes of someone on the cusp of her career in this business.”

Emhoff’s look for the event came together rather effortlessly. “She wanted to wear a dress, and the coat was important since the ceremony was taking place outside,” the duo recalls of the styling process. “Our first request and confirmation was the Miu Miu coat and we had a feeling that would be the winner. It was the first piece she saw and tried on when she walked into the fitting … our feeling was confirmed. She lit up.”

The dress was more difficult to choose. Emhoff is a champion of emerging designers and a fan of New York-based Batsheva, but the dress had to fit the moment. “We tried a style from Batsheva that she loved,” Lincoln and Johnson continue, “but the fabric was a little bold for the occasion … After the fitting, Ella sent us a link to a ‘winterized’ version of the dress style we tried. We inquired with Batsheva, she sent a crimson option that complemented the coat perfectly and we were done. Not a stitch was needed.”

With an all-day event like this, especially one with a significant amount of walking, Lincoln and Johnson had to take movement into account. “Walking for lengths without rubber soles is tricky even for the most well-seasoned high-heel enthusiast,” they say. “After a year of staying in our homes, we imagine no one in the procession was thrilled about dusting off their dress shoes.” In anticipation of a long day, Emhoff ultimately ended up wearing shoes from her closet that were already broken in.

“Though we were all well aware of the magnitude of the event, we approached this project for what it was: a really special day for their family and our country,” say Lincoln and Johnson, whose actress clients include include Jennifer Garner and Rachel Brosnahan. “It’s a very rare opportunity to say the least.”

Many outfits worn at inaugurations over the decades have quickly become iconic, so stylists have no shortage of inspiration to pull from. When asked about their favorite looks leading up to this year, Johnson picked “Nancy Reagan in Galanos at the inaugural ball. She was floating in that dress and looked so at ease and elegant. The gloves and earrings were the perfect touches for a fully styled look.”

For Lincoln, she thinks she got the fashion bug from her family namesake: “Mary Todd Lincoln’s dress was incredible! Future award season inspiration.”