Rhuigi Villaseñor brought the glamour back to Beverly Hills on Wednesday night, staging a runway show, cigar smoke- and Champagne-filled bash at an over-the-top, $125 million Mediterranean-style estate with quite a history — it was home to William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies, the West Coast presidential election headquarters for John F. Kennedy, and the shooting location for the infamous horse head scene from “The Godfather.”
Villaseñor was there for all of it, showing a collection that mixed Rat Pack, Formula 1, surf, street and tennis prep vibes around the Olympic-sized swimming pool, where front rowers included Cynthia Erivo, Lena Waithe, Chris Brown, Saweetie, French Montana and more.
“Nothing made more sense with what the world has given us than to show back home,” he said of being in L.A. instead of Paris this season.
A Filipino immigrant who grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in the Valley and rose to become a fashion go-to for Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z, Villaseñor’s first window to Hollywood was through classic film.
You could see the influence in how he worked a casual formality throughout the collection, with tailored jackets over drawstring shorts or track pants; boiler suits, vests and bombers in luxe leather, and his signature bandana print morphed into a refined paisley on gorgeous camp shirts, silk pants and intarsia knits.
In the preppy canon, a tennis sweater with “Rhude” spelled across the front, and a short-sleeve rugby over dolphin shorts were ready for the (country) club. And instead of neckties, ribbon ties were an interesting proposition for a linen suit, button-front shirt and varsity jacket. Overall, there were enough ideas here for multiple collections.
Villaseñor is just starting to design women’s and his direction there was even less clear; a white leather chaps and tennis vest look was more distinctive and fun than the utility styles, knit pants and shirt jackets. But a lot of the women at the party were wearing the men’s anyway. Rhude is also expanding accessories at a fast clip, and leather slipper shoes and loafers worn with ankle socks looked great.
The designer will be returning to Paris next season, he said, but it had to be gratifying to see his hometown “Rhude boys” sporting his designs. “We are here as consumers first,” said stylist Micah McDonald, surveying the crowd with partner Wayman Bannerman. “This scene right here is going to catapult him to another level. We saw it with Amiri and we are going to see it with Rhuigi. Now, we aren’t going to be able to find our sizes at Neiman Marcus.”
Titled “Monaco With God’s Help,” the collection was also an homage to that pinnacle of luxury, where Villaseñor was supposed to present a collection with luxury carmaker McLaren during the Monaco Grand Prix but didn’t get the chance because of COVID-19.
He’s still hoping to get there one day. In the meantime, there’s always Beverly Hills.