Bally’s new man Rhuigi Villaseñor is optimistic and nervous about the future of streetwear
Rhuigi Villaseñor is an international luxury man – Birkin collector, McLaren driver, perfect skin, smooth talker – and so he’s the perfect choice to revive Swiss luxury house Bally. When the Swiss luxury house announced it was hiring Villaseñor, founder of the Rhude brand, as its new creative director, social media engagement increased by 5,000%, he said. “I have hope,” he said in conversation earlier this week. “I feel good.”
And, he says, he feels “nervous. I didn’t want to feel pressure to meet expectations other than ours. He knew this appointment would mean more people than ever before would watch his Fall 2022 show, which he shared in a video presentation and a lookbook on the Paris calendar on Wednesday. On Saturday, he would travel to Switzerland to start his new job. At the end of our call, he began to sing Adele, like a kind of plea: “Take it-eee-eee-easy with me, baybay!”
Villaseñor’s client fanaticism means it doesn’t matter whether you’re lenient with him or not. He constantly talks to them, teaches them, guides them through the clothes. Villaseñor, who has many fans in their 20s and 30s, said: “I’m watching kids become more aware of how they handle their money, where they invest it, whether it’s clothes, stocks or enterprises.” He called the collection “Bull Market”. He was thinking about how money, wrapped up as it is now in cryptocurrency and new forms of power and even self-expression, is somehow its own culture. Men are now interested in money as they started to do with streetwear a few years ago and as they did twenty years ago with basketball. What a world! Villaseñor wanted to dress his guys for a modern Wall Street, imagining them in chic suits and big fur coats, a little american gigolo meets american mobster. He wants to encourage kids to keep making suits, so he’s enlisted a new talent to help with his tailoring: Denis Frison, Los Angeles-based bespoke tailor Al Pacino adores.
When Villaseñor’s new job was announced, there was some rumor that a luxury brand was hiring a “streetwear” designer. Eh! Many designers bristle at this word, as many people use it as a synonym for “non-white”. Villaseñor knows it: “I find it reflects the person’s core beliefs more than my personal work,” he said of the descriptor. “If we can find a way to heal and find a way to understand why [the word ‘streetwear’] has a connotation of class, and what is the real purpose of calling it “streetwear”, then we can find a perfect match. It seems crazy to have to say this after Virgil Abloh spent over three years shaking up the idea of a “streetwear designer”, but when a brand like Bally or J.Crew hires a Villaseñor or a Brendon Babenzien, they aren’t trying to make up for Bape’s legacy or Palace’s warmth. They partner with designers who have created a whole subculture around clothing.
Its best-selling pieces are its moccasins and outerwear, pure American sportswear. In fact, he started this collection from a very commercial place, noticing that younger customers gravitated towards his big, beautiful line coats, with many fabrics, like an outrageous pink fur trim, borrowed from unused materials. from previous seasons. Our prince of upcycled luxury!
The two best looks, which hint at the kind of finesse Villaseñor will bring to Bally, are the most extreme. One: a DB pinstripe suit with a leather bomber jacket on top. And two: a big faux fur coat with a trapper hat over real blue jeans and a pair of moccasins, with a little white sock. Street clothing? Sportswear? We do not care! KA-CHING!