MILAN — Bally has appointed Rhuigi Villaseñor as its new creative director.
His first collection for the Swiss luxury brand Bally, owned by JAB Holding Company, is to bow for spring 2023.
He succeeds Pablo Coppola, who exited Bally in 2017 after a three-year experience, the last to hold this role.
Born in Manila, Villaseñor is the founder, chief executive officer and creative director of the Rhude brand, which includes ready-to-wear and accessories and lifestyle partnerships including homeware and automotive. His new role at Bally will not impact the Rhude brand, which he will continue to lead and design.
“Over the past three years, we have redefined our positioning, successfully consolidating the brand across product offering and customer touchpoints,” said Nicolas Girotto, CEO of Bally. “This strong foundation, rooted in an embrace of our Swiss identity, enables us to progress on our ambitions. In this transformative moment, and having found the right champion in Rhuigi, we are ready to move Bally to the next level.”
Girotto defined the designer “a talented visionary,” and said he was confident in his ability “to continue evolving the contemporary relevance of our brand and accelerate growth while preserving Bally’s core values. Having acutely followed Rhuigi’s ascent, I am excited by how his natural creativity and energetic spirit have made him one of the industry’s greatest idea generators and community builders. Rhuigi’s deep understanding of Bally’s history coupled with a distinct appreciation of the Swiss lifestyle will be instrumental in ushering the brand into the future.”
A Filipino immigrant who grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley and rose to become a fashion go-to for Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z, Villaseñor was influenced in this path by his mother, a tailor, and his father, an architect. He founded Rhude in 2015.
At Rhude, he has specialized in elevated streetwear, casual tailoring and silk separates with a Rat Pack-style swagger, at times incorporating bandana print as a signature. He also designs shoes and leathergoods.
Although he has been a regular on the Paris men’s schedule, for spring 2022, Villaseñor brought his collection home to L.A. in spectacular fashion, showing his men’s and women’s clothing around an Olympic-sized pool at the lavish Beverly Hills mansion that appeared in “The Godfather” film, to a front row that included Cynthia Erivo, Lena Waithe, Tyga, Kyle Kuzma, Chris Brown, Saweetie, French Montana and more.
The designer has had several collaborations — with luxury carmaker McLaren to produce capsule fashion collections, with Thierry Lasry on sunglasses, with Instant Pot on kitchenware. And with his fan base of athletes and musicians, he should bring a new buzz to Bally.
Bally “has been worn in my family from generation to generation, from my grandfather to myself. The brand’s pioneering legacy across social innovation and 171 years of luxury heritage is a true inspiration, and I am drawn to the company’s paramount commitment to sustainability and craftsmanship,” said Villaseñor, who will be based between Los Angeles and Switzerland. “I have always admired the Swiss approach to luxury, its discreet representation of excellence, and symbiotic openness and care for the environment. Nicolas and I connected on our shared vision, and it is with immense honor that I accept this challenge. I look forward to invigorating and modernizing the brand while respecting its longstanding tradition, sharing its story further with a wider community.”
Manuel Martinez, chairman of Bally,” said “Villaseñor has a profound comprehension of the brand’s potential and will bring a synergistic creative force, articulating the brand further while propelling the foundational repositioning successfully led by Nicolas over the past three years.”
The appointment signals additional developments for Bally. Girotto said that as the company is planning to “continue accelerating our digital investment and transformation given its growing importance as a sales channel and increasing share of voice in customer engagement, we will announce a new chief digital officer at the end of February. This executive committee role will oversee the integration of digital functions across the company, and lead the company’s ambitious digital agenda.”