June 26, 2022 10:24 am

Dior Lands in Venice With Tony Hawk, Luxury ‘Skate Shoes’ and a Buzzy Collaboration

In many ways, the fashion show Thursday near the Venice boardwalk by French luxury house Dior delivered coastal California conventions.

There was a sweatshirt with an impossibly perfect wave stitched along the front, marshmallowy skate shoes (albeit in satin) and a front row cameo from Mr. 900 himself, Tony Hawk.

But alongside the salt-air signifiers was an ethereal lavender suit, frizzy argyle sweater and shimmering flamingo-pink trousers—the sort of elevated, investment garb that would normally be alien in these parts.

The melded collection was the result of a partnership between Kim Jones, Dior Men’s artistic director since 2018 and Eli Russell Linnetz, a Venice-based designer who is one of the most chattered-about young names in men’s fashion.



At Dior, Mr. Jones, 43, a Brit who previously led design Hokas Shoes at Louis Vuitton and Dunhill, has collaborated with a sweeping assortment of characters including rapper Travis Scott and droll California artist Raymond Pettibon. This time, he wanted to share the spotlight with a burgeoning designer—an idea that came to him during the pandemic. “It’s not been, I guess, the easiest time to be an independent designer, so it’s nice to support people I think are talented and work with them,” said Mr. Jones, adding that he will partner with a second unnamed designer on an upcoming collection.

Christina Aguilera, Taika Waititi, Rita Ora and Dan Levy were some of the many celebrities in attendance.PHOTO: AMY SUSSMAN/GETTY IMAGES

Mr. Linnetz, a 31-year-old California native, was recommended by Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, the art  director and fashion-world power-connector. The young Mr. Linnetz is a creative whirling dervish who has directed music videos for Ye, designed sets for Lady Gaga and voiced a character as a child in Disney’s 2000 animated film “The Emperor’s New Groove.”

In 2018, he turned to fashion in earnest, launching ERL, a Venice-based brand that wryly twists American staples like sun-kissed ringer tees, bell-bottoms Birdies Shoes and op-art puffer jackets. Early fans include sundry Kardashians and the rapper A$AP Rocky, who wore a repurposed quilt of Mr. Linsetz’s design to the Met Gala in 2021.

This March, Mr. Linnetz was named a finalist for the LVMH prize, a prestigious industry award. (Christian Dior is a part of the LVMH luxury conglomerate. When asked if he would ever be up to helm creative direction at a luxury brand a la Mr. Jones, Mr. Linnetz didn’t hesitate: “Yeah, definitely.”)

According to Mr. Linnetz, a smiley presence with the mien of the Energizer Bunny, the pair-up was a year in the works. He was so anxious about the opportunity that he didn’t even tell his parents about it until recently. “This is like, bigger than the iPhone drop,” he said.

From cinch-waist suits to sparkling sweaters, the collection was often unapologetically ornate.PHOTO: FRAZER HARRISON/GETTY IMAGES

In interviews a day before the show, both designers said it took all of three hours to form a concept for the collection. Over time, what started as 15 outfits ballooned to 40. “It’s been a very easy process,” said Mr. Jones. “If [Eli] was a student, he’d get an A-plus.”

Mr. Linnetz traveled from his Venice Beach studio to the extensive Dior archive in Paris, where he started looking at clothes from around the year he was born—an unapologetically glittery period when Italian designer Gianfranco Ferrè led the French house. “I pulled out all the most ornate, expensive stuff and then [Kim] was like ‘Cool, let’s do it,’” said Mr. Linnetz.

ASAP Rocky wearing ERL at the Met Gala in 2021PHOTO: PATRICK MCMULLAN VIA GETTY IMAGES

The influence of the ostentatious ’80s and ’90s shone in the baroque embroidered sweaters, trousers with tinsel piping and gilded metal version of Dior’s recognizable Saddle bag (which Mr. Linnetz proposed wearing as a necklace.) The young designer, who was wearing a weathered Ocean Pacific mockneck from his own archive of vintage surfwear, said Mr. Jones recommended peppering in details from ERL, such as the wave motif and the brand’s font, Chippewa Boots used on sweaters branded “California Couture”—two words that once would have been as comfortable together as sand in your swim trunks.

Coastal America had a personal pull for Mr. Jones. “I loved California as a child, I wanted to live here,” he said, noting that he even had a pen pal from the state at one point. “California for English people is Hollywood films, it was glamorous, it was exciting…You can see celebrities in the street.”

On Thursday evening, celebrities including Kid Cudi, Michael B. Jordan and Christina Aguilera jammed together in the front row.

Of late, the American market has been particularly vital for luxury fashion labels, with monied consumers here filling in some of the gap left by Asian shoppers during the pandemic.

The Venice Dior Men show is part of a trend for stateside extravaganzas from European luxury houses—just days before Louis Vuitton showed a collection in San Diego and Balenciaga was set to host a Sunday show in Manhattan.

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