The Hollywood Glow. Rodarte SS23

For Rodarte‘s spring-summer 2023 collection, Kate and Laura Mulleavy harnessed the theatricality and glow of live performances into a lineup of dresses and sets that balance fluid shapes with busy prints and intricate, rich textures. Alongside rainbows of psychedelic swirls – which take shape across bias-cut chiffon slips – and velvet burnout silhouettes, you will find a range of high-shine threads and embellishments with a light-refracting quality that adds striking dimension. “We were really wanting to feel something that was really vibrant and alive and about lighting and connectivity,” said Laura. A sense of ease and lightness was achieved on an entirely hand knit purple gown with long sleeves and a contrasting orange trim on the hem and cuffs. The yarn was made from a material “that almost looks like saran wrap,” Kate concluded. “No one believes it will be, and that’s what’s so cool about it. It’s very shiny.” They used the same fabric to create little skirt suits worn with matching cropped tops; one in shades of green, and another in orange and pink. The concept of light – both in terms of weight and illumination – played an important role in the collection. Metallic details abounded in fabric construction and embellishments, bringing into play the light that surrounds the garment as an added accessory. “All of the materials are in some way reflective of light. Even the lace has a sheen on it,” one of the Mulleavy sisters said. “So what’s interesting is that you see them differently depending on the angle at which you are looking at them.” This were manifested in straightforward ways, as in some of the looks in the second half of the collection: holographic sequins on an architecturally draped asymmetric gown; silver sequins on a spaghetti strap tunic and flared trousers; silver fringe on a Nick Cave-esque (the fine artist, not the musician) long sleeve cropped top and matching trousers; and gowns with mosaics made from small mirror shards. “We’re starting to see the red carpets open back up again,” said Laura. “I feel like there’s no version of us as designers at Rodarte if there never was a red carpet. We’re in Los Angeles, and it’s one of the thrilling aspects of designing eveningwear. If you design a gown, you want to see it out there, that’s the beauty of it.” But the Mulleavys know that the magic of their clothes is that they can impart that same feeling to anyone that wears them, no matter the place.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Our Youth. ERL SS23

Eli Russell Linnetz is more than a designer – he’s a a storyteller. For his ERL collections he creates mini-narratives. This season’s stars an architect looking back on his youth. In the look book pictures, which Linnetz casts and shoots himself, there’s a dad and three boys – “mom’s left and it’s just the guys”- surfer and skater kids from the neighborhood, and a love interest. They wear a mix of Venice-Beach-cool essentials like tie-dye tees, peasant dresses, grungy flannels, and corduroy flares airbrushed at the hems with beach scenes. Then there are the ERL staples—waffle-weave long johns, star-dyed denim, striped mohair sweaters, tube socks. The comic strip pants and matching bedspread that open this slideshow will be as collectible as the vintage 1950s comic book he lifted them from. A collage print of surfers at sunset turns an otherwise basic slip dress into an object of interest. And the clash-up of neon camouflage puffers, shirts, and skate pants is hard to resist. There’s a lot of potential for ERL and Linnetz, a creative who has his feet planted both in Hollywood and the fashion business. His collaboration with Dior’s Kim Jones last spring established his name in the industry even further. Linnetz’s next step? Directing his first feature-length film. When he gets around to making that project, he’ll naturally be designing its costumes too. Expect the unexpected.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Land Of Dreams. Ralph Lauren SS23

Sometimes, we just want something stable and lasting in the world where everything changes so instantly and abruptly. That’s Ralph Lauren‘s allure, which seems to be going through a sort of renaissance in the last couple of seasons. Over the years, Lauren has shown us his New York – a show in Central Park, the café society show presented at his uptown store, the swanky supper club he erected near Wall Street and last season’s soignee affair at MoMA. While there’s no denying he’s a New Yorker through and through, nothing gets the creative juices flowing quite like a case of wanderlust. And so the designer looked farther afield for spring-summer 2023. Specifically to Southern California – shockingly, the first time he’s shown here. He could have gone anywhere he pleased, but Lauren landed on an unexpected choice – the Huntington Library, a museum and botanical garden just northeast of Los Angeles proper, founded in 1919 by an industrialist family that made their fortunes in railroads and real estate. It was against the museum’s Mediterranean Revival style facade that Lauren presented his vision to his Hollywood pals – Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Diane Keaton, Laura Dern, John Legend, to name but a few. The cushioned loungers and twilight cocktail hour set the tone – this was California casual, done the Ralph way. “California has always been a land of dreams and contradictions – rugged coasts and red carpets,” he said in his show notes. You could sense that those contrasts fascinate him. “For the first time ever,” he continued, “I bring my dream of living here, sharing my worlds in an experience that celebrates a way of life I have always believed in – a mix of grit and glamour, energy and inspiration.” In his six-decades-long career, there’s nothing in the American psyche that Lauren hasn’t addressed in some way. And yet, the West and its mythos, has been particularly transfixing. So it’s not surprising that he found ways to wring out new insights from archetypes and codes that he’s explored before.

The show opened with a trim, wheat-colored suit worn with an oversized cowboy hat, a Western belt, and antique-style jewelry. The effect was confident and assured – a mix of the urbane and rugged, of masculine and feminine. Floral-pattern bias-cut prairie dresses fluttering atop cowboy boots followed, adding a demure touch, while fringed knits became oversized cardigans or wrap skirts, imparting gravitas. Men, meanwhile, wore dusky denim suits, evoking the hardscrabble dignity of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, or, alternately, looked like suave frontiersmen of classic Hollywood westerns, the models tipping their hats and winking at audience members as they strutted by. The show shifted through different modes, first came looks in an easy key: breezy pleated pants worn with louche white button-ups, preppy sweaters tied around the neck, tennis shorts paired with a creamy brown turtleneck, a shimmering gold safari suit, all imbued with a sense of offhanded elegance. Next, it moved into a more eclectic, youthful beat: madras patchwork mixed with tailoring, athletic gear mixed with prep, polo shirts atop ball gowns or maillots worn with billowing nylon floor length skirts. Lauren seemed to be shaking off the formality of the East Coast, embracing the outdoorsy lifestyle of Los Angeles. It was a looser, freer collection, one that was a snapshot of the breadth and variety of the American style idiom (the wonderful casting of various ages and ethnicities helped tell that story beautifully). Instead of the normal final walk, the enormous cast came out and lined the stairs as Lauren, smiling, took his bow.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Groovy. The Elder Statesman Resort 2023

There’s only one place in Paris where you can stand over a pool of koi and under a glittering disco ball. Dragons Elysées is a Chinese restaurant that delights in kitsch – and can hold, as a nighttime The Elder Statesman presentation proved, a surprising number of revelers. Even in the brand’s thick knits on a humid Parisian day, the guests didn’t have a lick of sweat beading. Just one way Bailey Hunter, the creative director, is innovating at the Los Angeles-based label. The other way is that she is bringing the vibes back to one of fashion’s vibiest brands. Throughout the pandemic, founder Greg Chait took immense pride in the way The Elder Statesman was innovating and bringing most of its operations in-house. A new yarn-spinning technique, he said during his Paris event, would take at least a week to understand. But for all the ways the label reimagines its lightweight wovens, its groovy patterned knits, and its hand-done embroidery, crocheting, and dyeing, the special sauce of TES is its mood. That radiated during this crowded Parisian show. Chait and Hunter should stick with the idea and bring their party-presentations to more locations around the globe.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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ERLification. Dior Men Resort 2023

You could see the crest of a 30-foot blue nylon wave from several blocks away on Pacific Avenue in Venice Beach, part of the impressive ocean-themed runway set design that was constructed for Dior Men’s show last night. With Californian designer Eli Russell Linnetz of ERL signed on as the house’s latest guest designer, it made sense that creative director Kim Jones would choose to show the capsule collection against the backdrop of this well known Los Angeles beachfront. “I grew up in Venice Beach, I came to this street all the time,” said Linnetz speaking at a preview before the show. “This was basically my backyard.” Linnetz’s story is straight out of Hollywood. A film student turned designer, he cut his teeth in Kanye West’s artistic studio, directing videos for the likes of Teyana Taylor. Since launching his ERL brand in 2018, his fanbase has swelled year on year and includes the likes of A$AP Rocky and Hailey Bieber. He’s also one of several bright young finalists up for this year’s LVMH Prize. “We have lots of people in common,” said Jones, explaining that the pair were introduced by mutual friends and started the conversation over DM about a year ago. When Jones arrived at ERL HQ in Venice Beach to work on the capsule, their creative chemistry was almost instant. “I was 99% excited at the idea, 1% scared that I would lose myself, just because Kim has such a strong vision of the world and his collections are so refined and striking. My world is so much more chaotic,” said Linnetz. “But the second Kim came to the studio, it felt easy, seamless.” 

The pair used Linnetz’s date of birth, 1991, as a jumping off point for the collection, mining the Dior archives for clothes created that year. “I think people would assume that I would be more into the Galliano archive because it’s so theatrical, but actually through my research I become more interested in diving into something that hadn’t been touched before,” said Linnetz. They landed on the maximalist elegance of Gianfranco Ferré’s designs for the French House, the kind of opulent tailoring you might have seen sauntering down Rodeo Drive at the time. Cue the opening look, a gently padded silk satin suit in Dior’s signature dove gray created with the lining twisted inside out and worn with wide-legged pants puddling over chunky skater sneakers. It was a sweet marriage of Parisian executive realness and SoCal cool, or what you might call “California Couture,” a slogan that appeared on at least a few cozy turtleneck sweaters.  Several of ERL’s quirky design flourishes were filtered through a sophisticated lens. There were baggy skater boy shorts galore, only done for evening with an eye-catching beaded trim. Clearly Linnetz and Jones had a lot of fun dreaming up the accessories. According to Linnetz, the pillbox hats worn backwards with beaded veils were a cheeky nod to Jackie O. Strung on a heavy duty gold chain and worn across the body, the tiny tinsel saddle bags were a very elevated take on the classic skater keychain wallet that are bound to be a hit with Dior Men’s streetwise fashion guys alongside those ingenious sneakers. The yin-yang motif Linnetz is known for got a look in too and was rendered in an intricate embellished wave on a gray marl hoodie. “It’s interesting to see how Kim works because he really approaches everything like a film director,” said Linnetz. “And that’s very familiar to me.” In a sense the bigger picture here felt decidedly fresh, an example of what can happen when two creative minds from seemingly different ends of the fashion spectrum – and different sides of the world – come together to exchange ideas and find common ground. In the new fashion landscape, playing it safe hardly feels modern. Exchanging ideas in a freewheeling way is the new wave. 

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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