By Elsa Hawkes. Cover Image: ERL Fashion Show. Photo Credits: Giovanni Giannoni. Courtesy of Pitti Immagine Uomo.
It was much more than a show. It was a fantastic journey into eclecticism, futurism and the Renaissance, West Coast surfers, disco and skate culture.
ERL, a Californian brand based in Venice Beach, featured their Men’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection during Florence’s Pitti Uomo week on Thursday, June 15.
The invitations displayed a neon, eye-tiring yellow-green that matched the background of the runway held in Palazzo Corsini. The bright colours were none other than galactic and space-oriented.
Director, photographer and eclectic artist Eli Russell Linnetz, the mastermind behind the brand, decided to mix his view of the United States with a Hollywoodesque men’s style and a feel for the opera.
This incredible talent collaborated with Dior in May 2022 as a guest designer for the Spring 2023 collection with Kim Jones.
On the catwalk this season, there were iridescent taffeta suits, shirts with oversized collars covered with sequins, arm-length gloves, but also the Statue of Liberty as a man and night-life reflective tops mirroring the blue light cast upon the neon yellow-green runway.
ERL’s highly anticipated fashion show began in the dark.
The lights were off, and the music started to play a deep beat, one I could feel beneath my feet and moved up into the rest of my body.
This type of electronic music aimed to engage the audience, bring the guests into the show and draw attention to the dark space that would soon be illuminated to showcase the designs on the runway.
ENTERING A DIFFERENT UNIVERSE
A minute passed, maybe even two, or perhaps the time just felt longer as the audience was eagerly waiting to see what they came for: the show itself. However, this was part of the performance; the wait built energy, excitement and suspense. The show was packed, with guests sitting on the neon blocks that matched the rest of the runway as if they were a part of it, while stand-ins and backstage workers filled in behind them, standing and hoping to sneak a peek at what was going on.
After what felt like an eternity and enough suspense was built, the blue lights abruptly switched on, creating the sensation of being on a futuristic spacecraft or another planet. The first look opened the show with a metallic shirt and metallic pants, both in silver tones but completely different materials. Although the two garments seemed highly similar, the feels of the fabric were diverse, revealing Linnetz’s play in combining various materials into one look. Every model wore matching metallic silver nail polish to emphasise each look, adding the posh-but-dystopian impression.
FROM METALLICS TO NEOPRENE
The title of this Spring/Summer 2024 collection was “Make Believe”, indicating a made-up world that does not exist. It is based on fantasy but also the connection between that and reality, as well as a dystopian version of today’s world. The collection added to this feeling through metallic, neoprene, and polished fabrics. Linnetz added a Venice Beach impression to his collection by creating a skater style with baggy trousers, contemporary sunglasses, and chunky shoes. The attendees and I were transported to a dystopic world where everyone was a futuristic skater, and the Statue of Liberty had come to life as a man.
The week of Pitti Immagine was filled with events, shows, and pop-up shops for the students and fashion-industry professionals to attend and never get bored of, as the Florence menswear week is perhaps the equivalent of their own fashion week.
Elsa Hawkes is a Fashion Styling & Creative Direction undergraduate student at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.