A contemporary newcomer is deemed worthy of twisting pieces from an iconic fashion house
For every new year, January is a time for new beginnings. One may use it as a period of realignment or to set the tone for the rest of the year. It’s not too different for the fashion world, where tradition says that it is a time for Spring/Summer releases.
Early into 2023, a recently released capsule for the season is Dior’s Spring/Summer collection made with California-based label ERL and its founder Eli Russell Linnetz. From a surface level, it may seem like another collaboration, or in this case, a guest-designed collection.
But it’s exactly the guest-design aspect and the intricacies behind it that give it notability. Before even going into specifics about different dynamics, Linnetz now holds the distinction of being Dior’s first guest designer in the fashion house’s 76 years of existence.
There is also the fact that ERL is not exactly mainstream yet. While Linnetz’s portfolio contains notable names, he and his brand are just on their way to becoming mainstream. Moreover, there are the overall themes for both—ERL is an ode to Californian culture only founded in 2018, while Dior is essentially French high fashion.
And with that, we now make sense of the pieces to grasp how Linnetz made his way to one of the fashion world’s most revered archives.
Despite being a relative fashion newcomer, Eli Russell Linnetz boasts a stacked resume. Even before Dior and ERL, he’s been involved with Kanye West, especially during his The Life of Pablo and Ye eras. He’s also collaborated with Lady Gaga as the Creative Director of her Enigma + Jazz & Piano shows, as well as producing photographs that gave off classic Gaga vibes among others.
For his fashion entry, ERL was born at the urging of the late Dover Street Market president, Adrian Joffe, in 2018. His first collection was made for the new DSM flagship in Los Angeles at the time and was composed of neon-colored pieces in collaboration with Nike and LA-based artist Jordan Wolfson that sold out immediately.
Fast forward to the 2020s, his success in fashion is only starting to reach its peak. 2021 had viral moments with Kid Cudi’s wedding dress at the CFDA Awards, along with A$AP Rocky’s MET Gala quilt. The same year also saw Linnetz be nominated for CFDA’s American Emerging Designer of the Year award.
And in 2022, it was the reveal of his now-released collection with Dior, along with winning the Karl Lagerfeld prize at the LVMH Prize annually held by the luxury conglomerate to recognize young, emerging fashion designers.
In essence, the capsule is, again, a marriage of French high fashion and a California culture built on laid-back and relaxed vibes, making its “California Couture” title a perfect bird’s-eye description. Here, a harmonious relationship was achieved in creating a couture collection infused with California-based themes, from its vibrant sunsets to the prevalent skate and surf cultures.
We can see these in pieces such as the Cannage-infused down jacket, suits, and bottoms that come in pastel colors representative of sunsets or are tailored in line with skater boy-wear. There is also a line of hoodies and sweaters that include a reinterpretation of ERL’s signature wave motif. Additionally, there are the reimagined Saddle bag, Linnetz’s take on John Galliano’s newsprint motif, and chunky footwear reminiscent of skater shoes.
Come to think of it, this marriage is not entirely surprising. Remember, Kim Jones was the same figure who engineered the boundary-breaking Louis Vuitton and Supreme collaboration in 2017. In Dior, he’s linked up with artists such as KAWS, Daniel Arsham, or streetwear-friendly figures in Travis Scott and Jordan Brand—names that old-world purists would shun for a lack of Dior couture adherence. As we’ve seen, this has paid off for Dior, with the Jordan hype being an example.
While still supposedly considering Christian Dior’s vision, Jones is one who will always choose to break preconceived boundaries. While the choice of ERL may still be a welcome surprise, handing Dior’s archive keys to a young designer should have been a move seen coming one way or another based on his track record.
Eli Russell Linnetz is a prodigy with a meteoric rise as is. Through his love for home came a brand that has garnered him co-signs from renowned figures. This time around, that same brand is now representative of the next generation making its way to the timeless halls of fashion royalty while getting the hard launch it well deserves.
Featured Image and Photos from DIOR and ERL (via Instagram)