There were plenty of exciting looks on the Met Gala red carpet, but none captured the spirit of the “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” theme like ASAP Rocky’s custom ERL quilt. Since colonial times, crafts have been an integral part of the American experience, and quilts have served as historical records, family keepsakes, and contemporary art. Their multifaceted place in the nation’s history was part of what drew ERL designer Eli Russell Linnetz to the concept. “There’s an intense narrative in this room, it’s beautiful on the outside, on the inside, it represents a world of memories,” Linnetz shared over the phone from California.
Linnetz was introduced to Rocky after receiving a message from his stylist, Matthew Henson, about a potential studio visit. Based in Venice Beach, Calif., ERL’s serene headquarters are the opposite of your typical fashion brand office, and their meeting was suitably low-key. “We spent a few hours sitting and discussing life in America,” says Linnetz. “I hooked up with him, and when it was over I said, ‘I would like to create something for you for the Met. “It wasn’t on the table [initially]; he was born from that. Soon Linnetz began to sketch out ideas. “It gave me a lot of freedom in terms of what I wanted to create,” he says. “And the result is incredibly unexpected.”
For Rocky, Linnetz was a natural fit, and their collaboration felt organic from day one. “I love Eli’s aesthetics and what he does with his collections; I’m a huge fan of the brand, ”says Rocky. “We went to his studio in California, we stopped, we called it a vibe. I really enjoy working with him. I think (our visions) are parallel in such a similar way, so that went without saying. “
Rocky’s look was unlike anything else on the Met carpet with a custom silk taffeta tuxedo based on ERL’s latest collection layered under a wearable quilt. The design played with the quilting tradition of building on the existing. After finding an antique quilt at a thrift store, Linnetz decided to use it as the base for the Met piece, working pieces of personal resonance into the look. “I quilted things that were important to me, from my dad’s bathrobe to my boxers,” he explains. “Then we used these amazing throws and flannels and embroidered my family’s name all over the quilt.” The craftsman behind the scenes was an expert in reuse. “We worked with an amazing young quilter, Zak Foster, who specializes in funeral and memorial quilts,” says Linnetz. “There is an irony that I loved, using the clothes of the deceased to create this beautiful new quilt and then [in their honor] that lasts forever.
The thoughtful and unique touches were part of what made the duvet cape pop when it was unveiled on the carpet at the Met. Rocky and Rihanna may have been late for fashion, but their outfits were so original that they still managed to have the most talked-about looks of the night. Most of the guests were dressed in black ties, but Rocky’s quilting gave the night its whimsical moment. For his part, Rocky credits Linnetz’s work for keeping it comfortable and evoking the sense of playfulness that is a staple of American style. “I think it’s dope [and] it’s funny; I like brands that have fun, ”he says. “I think he brings a fun and unique aspect to the design. America has a lot of iconography, and Americans have their own way of doing things. I think his work represents what American fashion can look like.