“ERL is not just about clothing, as many people might think,” Eli Russel Linnetz tells Highsnobiety. “For me, it’s the expression of my soul and my life’s work, and it’s constantly evolving and growing.”
Linnetz, the California-hailing, 31 year-old fashion designer launched ERL in 2018, the same year Kim Jones was appointed Artistic Director of Dior Homme. Since then, the two have been trailblazing in their own arenas, one as a tenured, most visionary designer at the pinnacle of luxury, and the other as a next generation newcomer spurring fresh buzz in the industry.
Jones has a proven track record of bringing successful collaborators on board for Dior, from designers Matthew Williams, Shawn Stussy, and Yoon Ahn, to artists KAWS, Hajime Sorayama, and Kenny Scharf. Louis Vuitton x Supreme was also under Jones’ tenure. It surely was an a-ha moment when news broke out of his enlistment of ERL—the Dover Street Market-approved, 2022 LVMH Prize Finalist—as the next guest designer for Dior Homme.
The linking of the two couldn’t have been more perfect than at Venice Beach, California, where they presented their men’s Spring 2023 capsule collection titled “California Couture.”
“When Kim reached out to me, I have to admit that I somewhat hesitated to accept his invitation,” Linnetz recalls. “[It was] for fear of losing the spirit of myself and what I believe.”
Obviously (and fortunately), it worked out between the two. “Any hesitation melted away the moment we spoke on the phone. He is very caring and loving,” Linnetz continues. “He has this way of creating without ego, while exploring the greatest art and beauty references.”
The references they looked to for Dior this time around were the brand’s archives from 1991 and on, when it enjoyed a flamboyant and maximalist couture era under Gianfranco Ferre. The year 1991 is also when Linnetz was born.
The result of the archival studies for the Spring 2023 season was a combination of tailored ‘90s glamour and elevated, modern-day skate punk, a more than familiar territory for ERL, a brand based in Venice, the “global epicenter of skate.”
ERL’s signature swirl pattern showed up as padded pullovers, oversized totes, luxe hoodies, and satin pouches given out to guests as runway invitations. Linnetz’s original photograph of skaters superimposed on colorful button-down shirts juxtaposed an archival newspaper print from John Galliano’s days at Dior, which were on T-shirts and shorts. Dior’s iconic Cannage pattern seen on the Lady Dior bag got the So-Cal treatment on thick fleeces, chunky skate shoes, Saddle bags of all shades and sizes.
The most standout reinterpretation of a Dior classic was Linnetz’s take on the Bar jacket. The traditionally feminine piece saw an ultra-cool take in pastel shades of blues and finally in wedding white for the finale. The pastel tones, accented by hair just as colorful and a series of looks in hot pink, were chosen to reflect the LA sunset.
Dior’s house couturier craftsmanship shone through in gorgeous silk taffeta embroidered shorts and pearl-beaded knit sweaters. “Artistry and intuition form the very core of ERL, and those qualities also define Kim and his work,” Linnetz says. “I was very intrigued by his world and his approach to creating art, and I learned a lot from him.”
You can watch the full runway presentation below and click through for our exclusive behind-the-scenes looks above.