You could see the top of a 30-foot blue nylon wave a few blocks away on Pacific Avenue in Venice Beach, part of an impressive ocean-themed set designed for Dior’s show last night. With California designer Eli Russell Linnetz of ERL signed as the house’s latest guest designer, it made sense for creative director Kim Jones to decide to showcase a collection of capsules behind this famous Los Angeles beach. “I grew up on Venice Beach, I kept coming to this street,” Linnetz said speaking at the preview before the show. “This was basically my backyard.”
Linnetz’s story is directly from Hollywood. A film student who became a designer, he cut his teeth at Kanye West’s art studio, directing music videos for people like Teyana Taylor. He also considers Lady Gaga a former accomplice; he was her personal photographer. Since launching his ERL brand in 2018, his fan base has been growing year by year and includes like A $ AP Rocky and Hailey Bieber. He is also one of several great young finalists for this year’s LVMH Award.
“We have a lot of people in common,” Jones said, explaining that the couple met mutual friends and that they started the conversation through DM about a year ago. When Jones arrived at the ERL headquarters in Venice Beach to work on the capsule, their creative chemistry was almost instantaneous. “I was 99% excited about the idea, 1% scared to lose myself, just because Kim has such a strong vision of the world and his collections are so sophisticated and striking. My world is much more chaotic, ”said Linnetz. “But as soon as Kim came to the studio, it was easy, flawless.”
The couple used Linnetz’s date of birth, 1991, as a starting point for the collection, digging up Dior’s archives for clothes created that year. “I think people would assume that I would be more in Gallian’s archive because it’s so theatrical, but in fact, through my research, I’ve become more interested in diving into something that hasn’t been touched before,” Linnetz said. They stumbled upon the maximalist elegance of Gianfranco Ferré’s design for the French House, the kind of sumptuous cut you could see walking down Rodeo Drive at the time. As a starting look, a softly padded silk satin suit in Dior’s distinctive gray color made with a lined twist from the inside out and worn with wide-legged pants that cover over chunky skate sneakers. It was the sweet marriage of Parisian executive reality and SoCal cool, or what you might call “California Couture,” a slogan that appeared on at least a few comfortable sweaters with a dolcevita.