The undies mentioned in the headline, seen in green recently on Emma Corrin, aren’t shown here on the cover — they’re in the slideshow, though, as part of a spread that Emma Chamberlain curated as the creative director of her own photoshoot. Miu Miu is doing the devil’s work getting those shipped around town, and I’m certain we have not seen the last of them, no matter how much I may hope that “under” remains the operative portion of the word “underpants.”

Whenever I read articles about Emma, I am agog over just how popular she is. The numbers — double-digit-millions of views for talking about brands whose own social accounts get a fraction of the traction — are truly wild. I have to remind myself that it’s because she built her apparent empire on video rather than pictures. While these are an improvement over some of her red-carpet pics and this Allure cover from 2020, I find her face to be eerily dead-eyed in photos, — but when she interviews people for Vogue on the Met Gala red carpet, she’s lively and natural in a way where her ascent makes more sense to me. Emma Chamberlain is meant to be experienced in motion, and this cover shoot is another in a string of examples.

She’s engaging in the story, too; the writer, Faran Krentcil, does a great job of putting her vibe on paper. It’s clear Emma took this creative-direction gig seriously, from the way her process is described, and she seems friendly and fun, and introspective about how to move forward while giving slightly less of her personal life to fans than the “everything” that made her famous. At some point, you have to close the window, even just a little. The piece also makes some salient notes about who, exactly, gets anointed a “style oracle” and given the platform and benefits inherent to that crown:

But there’s an unspoken rule to fashion’s obsession with minimalism: It’s usually championed as a conduit for whiteness and thinness, something social media is quick to reward. Black women were sporting coffee-colored lip gloss and slicked back hair years before white women made it a “clean girl” beauty staple; images of plus size models in crop tops are routinely flagged as “explicit content” while the exact same look is #sponcon for their slimmer peers. The fact is, Chamberlain may appear less polished compared to mega-glam titans like Kylie Jenner, but she’s still a luxury avatar—the human embodiment of a pair of 501 jeans that are expensive because they’re perfectly ripped.

I ask Chamberlain if she thinks fashion’s reliance on “effortless” style is solely about intuitive dressing, or if unbothered ease is only rewarded when it also reinforces the status quo. But the Gen Z mouthpiece insists her appreciation of pared-back style is actually a mental health hack: “Getting dressed shouldn’t be stressful. Having a wardrobe that’s like your quiet friend that listens but is really fun when it’s just the two of you, that’s how I imagine it,” she explains. “And more is not always better!”

That’s a thoughtful observation in the first paragraph, but it never quite makes its way to Chamberlain in those terms and so she doesn’t address it exactly — perhaps it was too oblique a question for her, or was more of an after-the-fact thought. But it also isn’t an issue Emma can really answer for, not in a way that’s especially satisfactory right now. There are a lot of forces at work that end up anointing the same type of “luxury avatars” over and over again, and none of them are of Emma’s doing. I can appreciate that she seems to be a good egg — she doesn’t transmit as aloof at ALL, which is a mistake you might make just from looking at her stills — and she’s only 22, so she’s really only just starting on whatever her journey is really going to be.

[Photos: Olivia Malone, story by Faran Krentcil]