ERL Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection

At the LVMH Prize showroom, where he numbered among the 2022 semi-finalists, Eli Russell Linnetz wore a pale blue turtleneck printed with the word sun, straight-leg jeans, and thick skateboarding sneakers all of his own design. A friend in attendance wrote me later about how charming Linnetz is, but said that they didn’t really understand his collection. “It’s just skate clothes?” they texted, confused. Across Paris, outside Dover Street Market’s 35-37 showroom-cum-presentation space, crowds gathered at the entrance to discuss Linnetz’s new installation—a pile of tires aflame in front of a poster for his new Guess Jeans collection featuring a leather jacket and bare ass.

Linnetz’s propensity to confound and inspire is what makes him an engaging designer to watch. He crafts entire worlds for even the simplest garments and images, attaching stories to even mundane items. Those on the outside, who haven’t spent time Zooming, texting, and calling Linnetz might not get the full picture, and sadly, maybe they don’t want to. The forthright, yet whimsical clothing he makes goes against mainstream understandings of jeans, tees, puffers, and prim plaid dresses. Basic garments are often stripped of their magic, divorced from beauty, and reduced to mere stuff.

In championing “normal clothes,” Linnetz continues the great American design tradition of Calvin, Ralph, and Dapper Dan—making the ordinary extraordinary. (His closest contemporary peer is Telfar, who has turned sweats and Uggs into heroic items.) This season, Linnetz cooked up a bildungsroman narrative of a man in a full body cast, whose mind replays the joys of high school, war, and romance, and eventually fragments into mania during an office Christmas party.

It could be an amazing black comedy, but it’s definitely a potent collection of ready-to-wear. Linnetz signatures, like worn-in denim, printed tees, and pastoral skirts were all here, alongside new pieces like a camouflage patchwork puffer, knits in ombré patterns, crisp little cardigans, and star jacquard denim in tonal blue and the colors of the American flag. A collaboration with Salomon’s snowboarding imprint brought kooky color-ways to the collection. Plaid flannel shirts were styled to evoke Victorian bustles, shirts were strewn with pins that riff on Vietnam War protest paraphernalia, and the quilt Linnetz upcycled for ASAP Rocky at the 2021 Met Gala was reinterpreted as bulky, blocky puffer jackets. All together the collection contained many wantable, wearable things, each representing a thread of ERL’s story.

One pin stood out: “How did a kid like me end up in a place like this?” Linnetz has been a showman since day one, a provocateur. His work has taken him on tour with Ye and Lady Gaga, put his photography on the covers of magazines, and spread his ideology to pop culture junkies the world over. Why would a kid like Eli, with so much potential, want to be in a place like the stuffy fashion world anyway? Maybe it’s the tension. A devilish grin swept across his face as he showed off a printed version of his lookbook, some images too provocative to be shown publicly. Fashion struggles with those who exist outside its finite understandings of what makes a collection worthy, but its powerbrokers would be wise to take stock of Linnetz’s dreamworld of designer basics. It has potential to turn on a new generation—and challenge the old guard to rethink what fashion can mean.






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