Can you manifest a movie star? This Bally show started late, thanks clearly to two empty seats that awaited filling between Tim Blanks and house CEO Nicolas Girotto. So I got on with noting that the tailoring at an earlier show had recalled that worn during Adrien Brody’s epic turn at Prada in 2012. As I did, in walked Brody—hardly a regular in these parts—resplendent in top-to-toe green tailoring of a more relaxed specification, with Georgina Chapman on his arm. The lights went down.
Rhuigi Villaseñor has through hard work and determination manifested his own brand Rhude, a diffusion line with Zara called Redesigning Human Uniform, and this sweet and increasingly interesting gig at Bally. Entitled Persistence of Time, Villaseñor’s sophomore collection saw him double down on his urge to use his fresh eyes to refresh Bally’s long-faded status as a provider of louche equipment for the pre-digital jet set: pre-Tom Ford Tom Ford.
“It’s about slow travel,” said Villaseñor of his 20th century wardrobe shaped by a 21st century mindset. Non-literal references included Tommy Nutter shapes in the suiting, equestrian exclusivity in the boots, mercurial Miles Davis at Montreux in the archive-quilt black leather looks, Yves Saint Laurent in the hooded dresses, and all the foulard competitors in the straight-cut silk pants (for men) and handbags dressed in scarfs. Said Villaseñor: “When I was in my little corner of California reading Town & Country, trying to imagine myself eating truffles, this is what it looked like. It’s really opulent.”
Cheetah print horse hair slippers, leather down jackets shivering with velvet bows, a great oversized leather quilted parka with water snake paneling, animal print 2.5-inch heeled Chelsea boots, and a purple shearling hoodie worn above a black beaded crystal-studded skirt were among Villaseñor’s other opulent offerings. The closing dress hung from the model’s right shoulder and a strap passed along her left: from behind the house name was advertised south east across her shoulder blade in proud gold lettering. Villaseñor said that some in his team had advised him to disrupt—aka “fuck up”—his retro urge with shots of modernity (sneakers and so forth) but he had declined. “Because the most fucked up thing is where I walk out after and I’m not a guy who comes from here or this,” he said. “There’s no silver spoon.”
This Bally show was held in the Casa degli Atellani, Leonardo Da Vinci’s home during the six years he was working across the road painting The Last Supper. Apparently it was the last show here before its new owner Bernard Arnault moves in and its current tenants move out. Tonight Rhuigi Villaseñor’s new LA sensibility and Bally’s old luxury heritage combined to deliver a fine bookmark in the building’s history, and an excellent collection to (2.5-inch heel) boot. “I’m having a lot of fun,” said Villaseñor. You can envisage Bally’s customers sharing that experience.