It was the best of both worlds.
Kim Jones brought Dior’s high-fashion sensibility together with Los Angeles designer Eli Russell Linnetz’s DIY SoCal surf-and-skate cool in the men’s resort 2023 collection that walked the runway in Venice, California, on Thursday night.
The result was electrifying — Dior’s haute tailored skater suits, their extralong pant legs pooling over high-top sneakers done in quilted satin connage, and grunge-glam knits, board shorts, tux pants and beanies dressed up with Linnetz’s tinsel and sequin embroideries were all hits.
California couture, indeed.
Dior closed down the street at Windward and Pacific Avenues, transforming it into an ocean blue runway set with waves cresting on either side leading straight to the beach. The show was called for 7 p.m. and the 700 or so guests milled around in the May gray, vaping and sipping hibiscus ice teas for more than an hour before the VIPs rolled in from their private party across the street.
There was Taika Waititi bringing the Champagne bottle with him, fresh-marrieds Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz, a Dior polo-wearing Dan Levy, a shirtless Kid Cudi in a hot pink Dior sweater and track-tux pants, O.G. skater Tony Hawk and more.
“When I was growing up in England, Venice Beach was a fantasy where all the kids were cool and Eli is one of the cool kids,” Jones said during a preview of the collection he designed with Venice born-and-raised multihyphenate Linnetz of ERL.
When Jones finally did make it to Los Angeles as a teenager, it didn’t disappoint. “I just loved it, it was seedy glamour,” he said of the scene, reflected on the runway in peacockish pink corduroy pants, with boxer shorts peeking out; deep V mohair sweaters; embroidered “46” dolphin shorts; Dior saddle bags with chunky gold skater chain handles, and sailor-boy Dior veiled caps, ahoy.
(It’s no wonder Dior’s men’s collection is getting so many female customers; several celebs, including Christina Ricci and Winnie Harlow, were wearing it Thursday night, too.)
“The way of dressing in California has a huge influence on how people around the world dress. Look at Shawn Stüssy, for example, how his brand created a way we all started dressing when we were teenagers,” Jones said. “It’s relaxed, it’s about comfort and outdoor life. There’s a certain dress-up to this collection but it’s not in the classic formal sense, it’s through rich fabrications…it’s almost eveningwear,” he explained of the lineup, which gave sportswear the couture treatment, as on board shorts made from eyelash baby blue tweed, or with cresting wave crystal and shell embroidery, or the tinsel on pullover sweaters, bags and tube socks.
Tailoring was all about the elegant slouch.
“I love all the inside-out suits…you have a Cary Grant ‘North by Northwest’ all-gray businessman suit, but with skate shoes on, a coat that looks like it was found at the thrift store but with embroidery on the neck, and a tie that is a trompe l’oeil photocopy print of a tie. The outfit is quite chaotic, but in this amazing Dior silhouette,” said Linnetz.
There were certainly nods to Dior codes in the pale pink and gray, and nods to house silhouettes in the fabulous ocean-recovered, slightly padded, slouchy white polyester beach Bar suit, and the connage quilting on puffer jackets, pants and high-top sneakers.
But this was more of a maximalism moment than we’ve seen from Jones. The result was rad, and should give other luxury brands playing in the same glittery sandbox a run for their money.