MILAN — Ahead of his debut coed show for Bally in Milan Saturday, creative director Rhuigi Villaseñor admitted he was “excited but also very nervous because it’s the first time on such a big stage. However, this comes with the challenge I took on.”
It’s a challenge he is embracing with plenty of new ideas to bring to the table. Villaseñor, who was appointed to the top creative role in January, described Bally as “a sleeping beauty, or a beautiful classic car sitting in a garage that hasn’t been running for a while.” The designer was especially drawn to the brand because of “a personal, romantic connection” since Bally was worn in his family “from generation to generation, from my grandfather to myself.”
While respectful of Bally’s history and a proud owner of “lovely vintage” shoes, the designer is eager to leave his own mark on the brand, to start the “Rhuigi era of Bally,” he said with a smile.
Indeed, in an exclusive preview, Villaseñor, who hails from Los Angeles, California, said he is adding a California vibe to the Swiss brand. For example, he paired a denim blouse, with the fabric made in L.A., with a high slit full-length skirt hand-embroidered with tiers of resin baguette beads, and embellished by the new Bally monogram hardware in brass. This is part of a new eveningwear category he is launching for the brand.
Black mule heels with a rhinestone-decorated net trimmed in leather, and a shiny lacquer stiletto highlight Bally’s footwear expertise.
Villaseñor is also creating new hardware for accessories reminiscent of sculptures, wooden toy blocks, or a sundial.
One of his goals is to add lighter and more informal fabrics, but also elegant and sophisticated silk chiffon, to the brand’s core leather heritage. This will help balance seasonality, since Bally is very much associated with the mountaineering tradition. In fact, the designer is also looking at introducing swimwear to the spring offering.
His woman will be more sensual, Villaseñor said.
Wishing to further elevate Bally‘s positioning, he said the brand’s designs should be luxurious “in a Swiss watch kind of way.”
Villaseñor is unveiling a new logo, inspired by a circa 1930s photograph of a boutique in France designed by architect Robert Mallet-Stevens. The writ featured a sans serif treatment, at the time quite futuristic.
The designer 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.
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.