Do you remember sex It wasn’t that long ago people had it, but now the pandemic has put the act that begins life and the ultimate source of human joy in such jeopardy that individual people are allegedly touching their apartment walls just for the sake of something feel.
Still, sex was out of fashion for a long time. (Fashion: always ahead of the curve!) For a decade, Phoebe Philo’s Celine drove a wave of men’s and women’s clothing that grazed the body with a blistered and almost mild sensuality. Now clothes are getting tighter, but for the most part sex remains out of the reach and mind of fashion. (There’s a new Givenchy ad that puts the house’s it-bag between Kendall Jenner’s legs like a sexual organ – but it could just as easily be her lunch. Those are the perversities of photographer and freshly-minted Matthew Williamsologist Heji Shin! ) #metoo Movement could on the one hand have made designers shy away from sex. And it is no coincidence that Jürgen Teller with his decidedly different approach has become the court jester of high fashion images amid the fall of photographers like Terry Richardson and Bruce Weber – hipster art kings of sex in fashion. He’s going to photograph a shirtless model, but he’s going to put a huge fish on their heads.
Still, I think the shift in fashion to the unsexy is less reactionary than existential: the purpose of fashion in the past four years has been to make declarative statements about individuality and identity. The idea of getting dressed in order to undress seems irrelevant.
But the people out there are lonely, and the fluffy, tactile, voluminous runway shows of the past few weeks suggest that people are eager for human touch. Finally, it seems that sex is making a comeback. And the sexiest clothes I’ve seen in years are from Venice-based designer Eli Russell Linnetz, who calls his brand ERL – California, baby, not Italy! You are probably familiar with Linnetz’s name because he has shot videos for Kanye West, including “Famous” and “Fade,” and staged West’s concerts and Sunday services. West is a fashion freak too, and when you look at the webby, stretchy, highly delicate garments that animate the early looks of Linnetz’s latest collection, you can see a common understanding of clothing that forever engages in a dance of distance and addition is: shirts, boxers, long johns, undershirts and sweatshirts that develop into a washed-out Americana ski trip and then, briefly but climatically, into a blacktie party on the slopes. But that’s the thing with layers, especially with ski clothing: at some point you have to take something off.
ERL’s lookbook might remind you of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, but without so much of the worrying weakness. (Maybe the one with the Slavoj Zizek quotes?) “I’ve been looking for these models for about four years,” Linnetz said of Zoom from his studio when asked about the dead bells for Josh Hartnett from the 90s. He refused to give their names – a sexy kind of possession! Spending years tracking down the right model sounds a bit strange or maybe totally awesome. Linnetz seems to be designing from a vague collective memory, a mix of Californian scenes, styles, and 90s media that feel they may not have happened. It’s Mandela Effect fashion: did we all ’90s babies wear those spiky fool hats while skiing, or am I just wrongly remembering the aftermath of that Disney Channel movie, Johnny Tsunami?