Welcome to Emma Chamberlain’s Domain
She’s got the internet in the palm of her hand, but, what now? As seen in the pages of V137, fashion’s favorite funny girl becomes our latest digital cover star and Cartier’s newest muse as she loads up her clicks and comments for global domination
If Gen Z has learned anything over the past two years, it’s the mystifying power of the online. Nearly everything in popular culture is instantly meme-iﬁed and, for better or worse, everyone has an opinion. With much of the world still stuck in limbo between in-person and virtual realities and the buzzed-about Metaverse quickly taking over, society is certainly at a crossroads. But with modern tastemakers like YouTuber, podcaster, fashion maven, and now, entrepreneur Emma Chamberlain leading the way, who wouldn’t want to take the online plunge?
An OG of the current wave of social media stars, Chamberlain got her start on YouTube at the tender age of 16. From hilariously in-depth try-on hauls to transparent discussions surrounding mental health, Chamberlain became an overnight sensation, captivating audiences with an upfront humor and spur-of-the-moment editing style.
Soon enough, the small-town California girl creating DIY fashion week outﬁts in her bedroom became a mainstay on the front rows of Louis Vuitton and the go-to red carpet interviewer at the Met Gala. While Chamberlain has been chronically online for much of the past six years, she is decisive in her next moves. “I want to focus on having a stronger intention with what I’m doing on the Internet,” she tells longtime pal and head of beauty and fashion at YouTube, Derek Blasberg. “I was on a roller coaster going four billion miles per hour the second that first video went viral and I’ve been on that roller coaster nonstop. Recently, I decided to slow down.”
Now, with over 15 million followers, a top-rated podcast, and a blossoming coffee empire, there’s no predicting what Chamberlain will try her hand at next. But if one thing is for sure, the Internet is coming along for the ride.
Below, in conversation with Blasberg, Chamberlain dishes on everything from her extended social media hiatus, strict no high-heel policy, and yes, her viral Met Gala moment with Jack Harlow.
Derek Blasberg: You are so busy! The only way I can get you on the phone is to book an interview with a fashion magazine.
Emma Chamberlain: I was so boring for so long and so available. Now, suddenly, my life is happening again. And it’s freaking me out! But thank you for doing this. It’s a pleasure to be interviewed by somebody whom I love.
DB: My pleasure, little sis! The last time I saw you was on the top of the steps at the Met Gala doing Vogue’s official interviews. Was that fun to do again this year?
EC: I had way more fun this year because my nerves were gone. I felt like I was more social this year, although I didn’t go out after. I went out for about 15 minutes in the lobby of my hotel and then that was it.
DB: To be fair, to stand on top of those stairs for three hours and have insightful, quick chit-chats with the biggest names in entertainment—most would agree that is an exhausting experience.
EC: It’s deﬁnitely exhausting but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
DB: Did you have a memorable moment? Maybe the moment you and Jack Harlow confessed your love for each other.
EC: I had no idea that was going to become a thing. I was on a break, still redoing my makeup, and they just sent him right over. Now it’s a meme. Who’d have thought?
DB: Maybe that’s the lesson here, Emma. You can never plan a meme.
EC: A meme can only plan you. What’s funny is that I don’t get really starstruck by anyone, so I really didn’t feel much adrenaline through the interviewing process. I was excited to interview Billie [Eilish] because I loved her outﬁ t and she’s such a sweet girl. That was my favorite interview to do because we get along really well.
DB: Vogue created a bunch of videos for their YouTube channel that night. Something like 39 videos in three hours.
EC: It’s insane how quickly they turned them around and they all turned out so good. I had fun doing it, even though I did have a tonsil stone. I was nervous that people I was interviewing could smell it.
DB: You’ve mentioned tonsil stones to me in the past, and I really don’t know what you’re talking about. How do you get a tonsil stone? Is it like a pimple in your throat?
EC: Basically, yes. It’s bacteria from your nose [that] drips into your throat and gets caught in your tonsils, and it’ll start building up a clump of bacteria in your throat. The only way to get it out is if it falls out or to get it removed by a doctor. It’s pretty simple, it’s not surgical. You could even have somebody else do it for you, I just wouldn’t recommend it because it’s really deep down and you don’t really want your friends sticking a dirty ﬁnger in there.
DB: So you were concerned about a tonsil stone because you were afraid the most important names in fashion were climbing the steps of the Met Gala and the ﬁ first thing, they’d smell is your stinky breath?
EC: You’re seeing why it would have been such a big issue to have a tonsil stone!
DB: As your self-appointed big brother, I did a lot of reconnaissance after your interviews and I can tell you that not a single person mentioned your breath.
EC: Halfway through the interviews, I ate almonds, which knocked it loose and I swallowed it. It was one of the most foul experiences of my life but it did the trick. DB: Let’s move on from your tonsils. Can we talk about your Louis Vuitton outﬁ t at this year’s Met Gala?
EC: My outﬁ t was mega glamorous! I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be that glamorous again. Number one, I felt like it was on theme. The top especially was on theme, with a very cool silhouette that matched that era, but we modernized the bottom half. The jewelry was crazy.
DB: Was that the ﬁ first time you ever wore a tiara?
EC: A real one? Yes.
DB: Did Cartier tell you the monetary value of your necklace and head decor?
EC: I never got a strict answer, but I mean, it was millions. Which is just insane to me. The second the Met was finished…
DB: They snatched it off your head so quick?
EC: Right back. And I was like, “It’s my pleasure. Take it back, please.” It made me anxious wearing stuff like that.
DB: Remind me: When did you start your YouTube channel?
EC: Just before my 16th birthday.
DB: And you just turned 21, so almost exactly ﬁ ve years ago. Did you ever think when you were a quirky former cheerleader at your dad’s house creating YouTube videos that this would be the trajectory in less than ﬁve years?
DB: Ha, what if you just said “yes” to that question?
EC: Ha! “Yes, I knew when I was born that I would be at the Met Gala wearing a bazillion-dollar tiara!” No, it’s so weird. The whole thing has been so weird because when I started, it was not supposed to take off —at all. This is something that I’ve come to terms with recently: I wasn’t prepared for any of it. I was running on adrenaline. Just pushing stuff out, trying to keep the momentum going, not really taking any time to reﬂect on the distant future and even on my own well-being. I was taking zero time to think about anything else. I was on a rollercoaster going four billion miles per hour the second that the first video went viral and I’ve been on that roller coaster nonstop ever since. Recently, I decided to slow down and take some time to be like, “Okay, this all happened really fast. Number one, take a moment to be grateful.” That got lost with how quickly things were moving. “Number two, take a second to think about the long-term goal.” I never had time to form that because things were moving so quickly. “And number three, figure out what’s gonna excite me with or without people watching.” If I can ﬁnd stuff that makes me excited to do or make, it’ll be a better process for everyone involved.
DB: Do you know what your next chapter looks like?
EC: It’s not going to be something drastically different from what’s going on now. But I’ve had to think about what I enjoy doing. My favorite thing is editing videos. I love editing. That part has always come easily for me and it’s actually being in front of the camera that hasn’t. I’m getting to a place now that I’m older and I just want to be silent, sometimes for like three weeks straight or for three months. That’s weird when the whole thing you’re doing is having stuff to say. So I’m trying to ﬁgure out the perfect master formula.
DB: What you just said is so mature and thoughtful. Most 21-year-old girls on an adrenaline roller coaster don’t have the ability to say, “Maybe I should get off this ride for a couple months.” Who’s your therapist?
EC: Number one, it’s my parents. Number two, I’m lucky that everybody around me is wise. At this point, I don’t have anyone in my life whose advice I don’t trust. I’m surrounded by thoughtful, insightful people and I keep it strictly that way. I’ve narrowed down my social circle so that now it’s safe and I trust all the advice I’m given. Learning to self-reﬂect is hard to do. But ﬁguring out how to do that on my own has been helpful and has made me realize even more stuff because not everybody can read your mind.
DB: What is your current relationship with social media?
EC: I am still off of Twitter and TikTok and I don’t plan on returning. Ever. I’m active on all the podcast streaming platforms, Pinterest even. Honestly, I use Zillow like it’s a social media platform. I love just scrolling through Zillow when I’m bored.
DB: Maybe your next chapter is being a celebrity realtor?
EC: YES! Next season on Selling Sunset.
DB: Are you spending less time on your phone?
EC: I check in once or twice a day but, generally, when I’m going on my phone now, I’m doing other things. I downloaded an app to read books. Instead of going on Instagram when I’m bored, I’m training myself to open a book on my phone. I’ve been surprisingly good about it.
DB: So, to be clear, you haven’t left YouTube forever, right?
EC: No! I’m taking a break from [social media] to get myself out of the matrix of it all, so I can ﬁgure out how I want to use it. It’s hard to come up with a unique approach to posting when you’re on it all the time and you’re seeing what other people are doing because you end up subconsciously copying what everyone else is doing. Whereas if you’re taking a break and you’re stepping back for a while, you can start thinking outside of the box. I’ve come to a point where I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t have a strong intention behind it.
DB: You’re not on break. You’re incubating.
EC: Exactly! I’m fully incubating right now. When I’m on a walk by myself or listening to music in the car, I’m thinking about, “What do I want to do next?” For a long time, everything I was doing I was just having fun, and that was great. But I want to focus on having a stronger intention with what I’m doing on the Internet, I want it to have a purpose. Even if I’m doing a shoot or something, I want to have intention behind it.
DB: How are things going at the coffee company?
EC: Chamberlain Coffee has been great! That’s also taken up a lot of my time. I want this to succeed. Everybody on my team and on the Chamberlain Coffee team needs to be mentally there because there’s a lot going on. Decisions being made in a very short amount of time about big stuff. I’m trying to make sure that I’m available for that so everything can go as smoothly as possible.
DB: It’s an exciting time!
EC: Within the next ﬁve years, I’m going to be even more involved once there’s things like brick-and-mortar coffee shops, and hopefully more activations in grocery stores, stuff like that. The hard thing is when you put a lot of work into something like a company and you don’t see the product of your work for a long time. It can be discouraging, especially with the way that things are now where everybody’s all about the quickest turnaround possible. If you don’t hear about stuff on social media for two months, people start assuming, “Oh, you’re not doing anything.”
DB: Two months? More like two hours.
EC: I’m not the type of person to post “in a meeting right now.”
DB: “Secret project coming soon, #secretproject.”
EC: I’m secretive about what I work on. Of course, I’m being the complete opposite of #secretproject right now by talking about it in an interview. Ha! I’m being a hypocrite, but you get me.
DB: I will say it’s been a long time since I’ve got some Chamberlain merch. Just want to put that out there.
EC: Oh my God, I know. We’re coming out with new merch soon. Do you want it?
DB: Duh! Make me the coolest dad on the Upper East Side.
EC: You already are and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
DB: Do you remember the first fashion show we went to together?
DB: Doesn’t that feel like a hundred years ago?
EC: The way that my fashion brain has evolved since the day that we first went to that Louis Vuitton show has been a whirlwind. Thank you for being my mentor in that and bringing me into the very crazy, spicy world of Paris Fashion Week.
DB: Do you still think it’s crazy and spicy?
EC: My perception has changed completely because I went into it being like, “Wow, this is the scariest, most intimidating world I’ve ever found myself in.” Even more intimidating than the YouTube world. Even more intimidating than dipping my toes into the celebrity world by meeting people in LA and stuff like that. The fashion world, specifically, was the most intimidating to me and now I’m not intimidated by it at all. Thank God. The other thing is that I think a lot of people might be [drawn to the fashion world] for the social element, which I totally understand cause so much social stuff goes on during fashion week. But I’m somebody who likes to be in a hotel room, order room service, and watch YouTube on my phone after a fashion show is over. My favorite part has become the actual fashion of it all.
DB: Me and you both!
EC: And you know, I would tell you if I didn’t really care about the fashion. But I actually really love that part. Even if I don’t go to a show, I’m on Vogue Runway scrolling through. I’m curious about it all. What’s most exciting to me right now is wondering where’s everything going? Everything’s already been done and things are rebirths of the past, you know? It’s interesting to see how things are evolving and I like watching all of it happen. But, of course. I also love getting a little drink in Paris with my Derek.
DB: I remember the first night we left the hotel and a few girls on the street yelled, “Emma!” And you turned around to me and said, “Someone here has the same name as me.”
EC: I was like, “Oh my god, is Emma Watson here? Emma Stone? Let’s find her!”
DB: I had to tell you that they were yelling at you.
EC: I had this phase where I just wanted to wear the same blue jeans and white tank top every day for the rest of my life. I just wanted to forget about fashion, but then I was like, “Emma, that defeats the whole purpose. You like this stuff, don’t get your head all wrapped up in the drama of the fashion world.” It’s supposed to be fun. On the internet, it’s so quick for people to be like, “Oh I hate her outfit.” There’s all this pressure. Recently, I’ve been able to not care anymore. I’ll just be like, “This is about me. I’m gonna wear stuff because I wanna wear stuff. I’m gonna go watch these shows because I’m excited about seeing what’s going on.” Period. I don’t care what people say about what I’m wearing, what shows I’m going to, this is all gonna be fun for me. And for my own studying, you know?
DB: I do blame you for bell bottom yoga pants.
EC: I know. I feel really responsible. But also I need to get you a pair. Let me get you a pair and you’ll understand.
DB: What other trends are on the horizon? What other things will I blame you for in the future, Emma?
EC: I’m kind of doing a little bit of everything. I’ve been loving a long skirt that goes all the way down to mid-calf. I’m obsessed with that. I just bought two vintage ones from The Real Real. I love wearing them with loafers.
DB: You used to have a no high heel policy. What’s your current policy on high heels?
EC: I hate them. Only for a fancy night out, but even then I’m taking them off within 20 minutes. I just can’t, Derek. I love boots. If I wanna be fancy, I’m wearing a loafer. And if I want to have a little bit of height, that’s what a platform is for. What else am I into? I don’t know, I’m really all over the map. I’m into stuff that’s timeless right now. Every time I’m picking out an outfit recently, I’m going into my closet being like, “What am I not gonna cringe at in 10 years?”
DB: We call that “investment dressing.”
EC: That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m trying to buy thoughtful and cool vintage pieces that I’m gonna have for a long time and give to my little children. If I ever decide to pop ’em out.
DB: Baby Derek?
EC: Obviously. I promised to name a child after you and I would never take that back.
DB: Good. I took it seriously.
EC: Actually, when my child is born, I’m gonna get your name tattooed on my child’s arm.
DB: Last question. Who do you love more: Me or Jack Harlow?
DB: Thank you. Correct response.
EC: Also, a quick response. I didn’t even think twice!