Saturday afternoon, Rhuigi Villaseñor Stroll quickly into the Milanese warehouse, where he’ll be showing off his debut Bally collection in a few hours. Wearing a dark denim and Visvim sandals, he dropped his traveling Hermès HAC duffel bag to the ground and looked around for his coffee. He, he admitted, felt nervous. How could he not be? He has been given the keys to a well-resourced luxury home, and tasked with turning the old boat upside down. Or, more specifically, with the delivery of some of the magic he conjures up at Rhude, where his Americana-branded jackets deftly – racing jackets, coin loafers – have attracted a growing fan following of young, fashion-forward men. A simple task, possible, but not an easy one to perform.
Another reason he was worried was because there were no clothes at the venue. I was told they were still shipping from another location. But a mood board against the back wall of the house previewed the attitude he wanted to bring to the Swiss leather house. “I am LA. I’m Rhuigi. I come from Hollywood. I want to make movies. I want to do iconic things. I wanted to create things that have become iconic in American movies,” he said, pointing to cutscenes showing young Elvis, James Dean in a cowboy hat, Basquiat in a vest and Lou Reed in a leather jacket.
The combination doesn’t represent direct inspiration for the clothing so much as a mission statement: “I’m here to bring that flavor into European luxury,” he says. Much has been said about how Villaseñor’s appointment represents a victory for “culture,” that is, those traditionally free from the luxury system, but with the creative and commercial instincts that the system does. luxury applies. But it’s also important to note how amazing it is that a guy with impeccable fashion sense and enviable personal style can establish a new identity at a historic label. “Rhude is an adventure about my immigrant story and my perception of American luxury. And now this is my perception of global and European luxury,” he said.