ERL‘s collection look-books always have that unique, beautifully disturbing, theatrical quality. Browsing through the autumn-winter 2022 line-up, one might have an impression of watching a coming of age school play – which went full art-house. Eli Russell 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. 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. 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.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.