“My grandfather loves white Bally borrower, that’s why I even made a white loafer to start with, that’s crazy,” says Newly appointed creative director of Bally Rhuigi Villaseñor, a Filipino immigrant who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, Southern California, and with no formal training has become fashionable among celebrities and athletes like Kyle Kuzma, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay-Z.
Villaseñor (who is also known as the man in white leather loafers) is set to fully satisfy Bally for the first time this weekend, when he will go to the brand’s headquarters in Lugano, Switzerland and spend two weeks a month there and two weeks in Los Angeles doing her own thing, Rhude.
He started Rhude in 2015, building a menswear brand based on a casual form represented by works like “traxedo” (a pair of track pants with side straps) and open extends to a wide range of clothing, shoes, accessories and eyewear, as well as being newly introduced into women’s wear.
“What does this mean as a Filipino? Oh my, my dad called me in tears. He and his friends have nothing to do with fashion, but what were they like? That for me is a sign that this is much bigger than myself and that I have to use the responsibility for good,” he said, reflecting on the present moment.
He succeeds Pablo Coppola, who has exited the country Bally in 2017 after three years, and was the last to hold the role.
Villaseñor’s first collection for the Swiss luxury brand owned by JAB Holding Company will launch in spring 2023.
“For me, when I design, it is always ingrained in my personal life, so that was a deciding factor in my choosing to go with Bally,” says Villaseñor. “Also, they give me menswear and womenswear because I am still proving to myself that I can do both,” he added, noting that in his own business, women only 10% of revenue.
The opportunity to work with Bally’s CEO, Nicolas Girotto, whom Villaseñor calls a friend, is also an attraction. “He told me a street style photo of me on the design team’s mood board, and at the end they said, ‘Why is he on the mood board? Why can’t we catch him? ‘”
Bally was founded as a shoe company by Carl Franz Bally in 1851, expanding into ready-to-wear in the 1970s. The brand has its roots in sports (the shoes are worn during the climb. the first Everest was Bally’s) and art, tapped Charlie Chaplin for a promotional film, painter Otto Baumberger, architect Karl Moser and others were collaborators for many years.
“The brand’s partnership with artists, that they made the first shoe to land on the moon… the narrative of space exploration is such a thing in our culture here where?” Villasenor said. (Perhaps today’s billionaire space explorers might want a Bally moon boot?)
In terms of design vision, he is exploring the idea of Switzerland as a land of luxury, but through the eyes of an LA guy. And judging by how business giants, cigars and flashy cars have been part of Rhude’s brand DNA, he’ll likely reflect Switzerland as a financial hub as well.
“I have no formal training, but I have a lot of curiosity that will propel my ideas forward,” says Villaseñor.
But more than anything, he will rely on heritage and craft, starting with what he hopes will be a new “It” bag.
“Bally is closest to Hermès in terms of quality and heritage.… They were founded a few years apart,” he says. “It’s about making sure existing customers get updates and creating my own niche in the company.”
https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/new-bally-creative-director-will-bring-la-view-of-switzerland-1235041414/ New Bally Creative Director Bringing L.A. View of Switzerland to Brand – WWD