She’s a Proenza girl now.

Ella Emhoff, presidential inauguration breakout style star, Vice President Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter and a Parsons student, made her runway debut Thursday in the Proenza Schouler fall 2021 collection film shot at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, N.Y.

“She represents the story we wanted to tell with the collection. It’s the beginning of a whole new chapter in American history, in the kind of clothes we’re wearing and are attracted to. She’s the breath of fresh air…” Lazaro Hernandez said during a preview, adding that they didn’t know Emhoff, who recently signed with IMG Models, until the rest of the world did on Jan. 20.

“She’s new-gen, she goes to Parsons, which is our alma mater, she’s a fine arts major interested in knitwear, and she’s very much someone we’d hang out with,” added Jack McCollough, of the duo’s style-and-substance muse, who came straight from quarantining post-inauguration to take her first runway turn, trademark curly hair and wire-rimmed glasses intact in the images.

Proenza Schouler RTW Fall 2021

Proenza Schouler RTW Fall 2021  Lexie Moreland/WWD

When it comes to fashion, the designers like to think in terms of evolution, not revolution. (“We don’t know any women who change their style every season,” McCollough said.) But this collection did feel like a new beginning, or at least a re-dedication to the nonchalant attitude of American sportswear in the grand tradition of Calvin Klein, for one.

“These days, what feels relevant is the elimination of anything excessive and superfluous,” explained Hernandez, touching on the collective quarantine clean out craze and the resetting of values regarding consumption, particularly among the younger generation. “It’s very American fashion to reduce everything to its core, to its essential form. So all the buttons are not visible, the external pockets are gone, we kind of stripped everything away.”

The result was modern minimalism remastered, versatile clothes with dynamic cuts and styling options baked in, and a cool-as-hell reimagining of today’s all-important power suit.

Exhibit A: The opening look on model Meadow Walker, a long, lean single-breasted blazer in technical wool shaped at the bust, with an adjustable back belt to cinch it open over a split wrap skirt. Emhoff’s sexy black pants suit — no shirt, single-button blazer cut away over slit-waistband trousers, also had a fabulous shape — for next-gen power players.

“We liked these little flashes of skin,” McCollough said. “It doesn’t feel so monastic.” Stretch-crepe bias-cut dresses had a similar simplicity and sensuality, some with crochet knit cutouts and straps. Billowy tie-dye dresses with fringed details added another element of tactility and craft.

Knitwear had a distinctive style, seen on a caramel-colored silk viscose cap-sleeve sweater dress with twisted bodice. “You know when a chic woman puts on a sweater and it’s kind of off to one side? We want to recreate that attitude but you don’t have to work so hard,” Hernandez said. A red crochet, plunge-front silk viscose knit dress was another winner — sweater dressing, but make it sexy.

The comfort feeling translated to outerwear, including a camel coat with a generous shape and leather trim, and a trim gray cashmere coat with fuzzy-wuzzy shearling collar. Shearling clogs added to the cozy factor.

“Super-luxurious fashion, but down-to-earth, enveloping, with hand-craft and humanity in the mix,” Hernandez said. “We want those things to coexist somehow and to address the moment we’re living in.”


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