Even more radical was the stuff Dior didn’t keep in the archive, like the cheap suits licensed and sold at American department stores under the brand “Christian Dior Monsieur.” “My touchpoint with Dior growing up,” Linnetz said, “was my grandpa’s licensed suits.” So Linnetz found examples on eBay, and he and Jones emblazoned the old CDM logo on inside-out blazers.
Linnetz also wanted to figure out how the California characters that inspire ERL—the surfers, skaters, hippies, and jocks who populate the brand’s dramatic lookbooks, and his neighborhood—would fit into the ultra-luxe world of Dior. For one, they would wear hoodies, a garment never before seen on the Dior runways. “I would never put a hoodie on a runway, because for me that’s not Dior,” Jones told me before the show. But there it was: an achingly luxurious-looking gray hoodie with a wave of silver sequins roaring across the front. “It fits in,” Jones explained. “It’s a different way of telling the story.”
The hoodie is one of several pieces straight from Linnetz’s world that, in the hands of the Dior atelier, became the most luxurious versions of themselves. Fluffy shearling tote bags, a cannage-printed down jacket, and sequin-embellished ombré sweaters bring Linnetz’s slightly twisted take on American garments to a new dimension of luxury. “It was interesting to do a lot of the language I’ve already created,” Linnetz said. “Kim has such a bigger understanding of luxury and storytelling and the experience of people when they go shopping. So he was like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to just do another color of something you already do. What’s the Dior version? What can we do with our atelier that tells your story in a different, new way for a different customer?’”
The hoodie, Linnetz noted with some glee, will cost $5,000, and a new Dior skate shoe based on an uber-’90s raver-skater silhouette—fat tongue, thick sole—Linnetz designed for ERL is going to be more expensive than the $2,200 Dior Air Jordans. How do you sell luxury skate-wear without coming off as corny? You enlist someone like Linnetz. “A lot of people try to tap into skate culture, because it’s relevant. But this is actually just what I wear every day,” he said, gesturing at the enormous skate shoes on his feet and big gold chain dangling from his pocket. “They’re just abstracted, luxurious versions of stuff that I already wear.” More importantly, said Linnetz, is what didn’t make the show: “I think we’ve had a successful project, because there’s not one skateboard on the runway.”
Though Linnetz has been very good at engineering viral red carpet moments (see: quilt-swaddled A$AP Rocky at the 2021 Met Gala or wedding dress-wearing Kid Cudi at the CFDA Awards) he actually built ERL very slowly and carefully. He shoots his lookbooks with the thought and attention of a cinema auteur, and he agonizes over creating what often looks like very simple, soulful American clothing. Before working with Dior, he had not yet collaborated with another brand. “He kind of reminds me of when I had my own label,” Jones told me. “He’s super professional. He’s super organized. He knows what he wants. And he understands the balance of art and commerce. That’s why I think he’ll be really successful.”