In Florence, Eli Russell Linnetz’s Life Is a Movie


This is an edition of the newsletter Show Notes, in which Samuel Hine reports from the front row of fashion month in Europe. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

Eli Russell Linnetz, this season’s guest designer at Pitti Uomo in Florence, approached his first solo runway show like it would be his last, he told me the morning before. “I can’t wait to finish fashion and make a movie,” said the ERL designer.

Linnetz was standing in a small warehouse in the Renaissance city, surrounded by racks of clothing. A styling assistant brought him a pair of jumbo skate sneakers—the Venice Beach brand’s first original piece of footwear—which she had been rubbing in the dirt outside. Linnetz turned one in his hands, contemplating the dusty shoe. “I think that’s too dirty,” he said. “I like it when it’s just naturally worn.” Linnetz might as well have been surveying the costume department before a long day of filming. All that was missing was a director’s chair with his name on it.

Since founding ERL in 2018, the 32-year-old creative polymath has learned a thing or two about constructing clothes, but his higher calling is as a constructor of worlds. His nostalgia-soaked reinterpretations of Americana staples—jorts, ski jackets, a perfume that smells like sunscreen—evoke the Venice Beach he inhabits alongside local surf gangs, and has resonated far beyond its palm tree-lined streets. A$AP Rocky’s ERL-designed prom suit and quilted train, worn to the 2021 Met Gala, caused a viral sensation, and the next year Kim Jones tapped Linnetz to guest-design an exceptional Dior Men’s collection.

Linnetz, who was about to take his biggest stage yet, told me he was feeling the pressure of not being on location. “I’m used to taking pictures just by myself in my studio,” he said, referring to the lookbooks he personally photographs in Venice Beach to unveil his collections. “So the difference between having focused control in your space and being in another country, but trying to bring Venice with you—it’s expensive!”

Such is the cost of auteur-level scene setting. Most of the hunky models walking in the show were plucked from the Venice Beach surf lineup and flown in for the occasion. The ERL team even imported American Coke for a reception following the show—Coke Zero would have broken the spell.

But what if Linnetz were instead debuting a film in a palazzo on the banks of the Arno—what would it be like? One that sounds like it could be coming soon to A24: “The storyline is basically it’s 100 years in the future in Florence, and the city’s underwater, so all the Venice surfers are coming,” said Linnetz. “They’re the boys of summer and they’re coming to surf in Florence. And this ambassador is having a party, so they go into and raid his closet and steal all his clothes and dress up as rich people for the night. It’s super playful. It feels like a costume dress-up, but done in the nicest, chicest way.”

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In Florence, Eli Russell Linnetz’s Life Is a Movie

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