Rhude Fall 2023 Menswear Collection
Rhuigi Villaseñor injected an off-handed sensuality and West Coast swagger into his Bally debut last September with dashing results; it was a finessed showing punctuated by him coming out for his bow in a very grown-up double-breasted pinstripe suit. For his own label’s fall collection last night in LA, he was in a more familiar mode, toying with archetypes of his youth, specifically the style of fashion iconoclasts Pharrell and Gwen Stefani in the early-aughts, hip-hop, and vintage shopping.
“It’s sort of the exclamation point on all the codes I’ve been building,” he said backstage before the show. “I would hang out in gasoline stations with my friends and dream about driving nice cars, starting brands, and living a lavish life. I think with my life moving so fast, it’s important to set my feet on the ground and go back to the foundation, to the roots.”
This idea manifested in some literal ways, including the Rhude-branded Lamborghini that greeted guests, and the cinematic gas station facsimile that served as the set (the Lamborghini partnership was also repped by collaborative pieces shown on the runway). But it also showed up in the way Villaseñor updated some of the touchstones of his brand—the baggy basketball short silhouette, the racing and varsity jackets, the piped pajama shirt, the track suit, and his now-signature chevron print among them. These weren’t merely elements of a nostalgia trip though, they had a sharper, crisper feel to them, from the trimmer, slightly cropped cut of the jackets to the elegant sweep of the baggy cargo pants and denim work pants. If Villaseñor wanted to toy with the ideas of Y2K that informed his childhood and have now bewitched Gen Z—he said he relies on his younger brother to help keep him tuned into what younger consumers are interested in—he did so with a deft hand and managed to avoid going too literal or sentimental, both wise moves.
Some standouts were a handsome cadet-style jacket with gold detailing on the sleeves, a sleek snakeskin coat worn over a half-tucked pajama shirt and slim dark jeans with matching boots, the slouchy double-kneed worn-in jeans, a vintage-tinged red plaid puffer vest, a nubby wool intarsia knit zip-up hoodie that recalled Abercrombie & Fitch’s golden era, and a ankle-length cargo skirt worn with a varsity jacket. In recent seasons, Villaseñor has let his silhouette get shaggier and a touch unruly, but this collection had a more contained approach that was elegant but not formal. Perhaps a bit of the European elan from the Bally studio has rubbed off here, adding some sophistication to that California easiness. “I’ve always kept this elevated thing where my guy is wearing t-shirts, and a loafer,” he said. “He’s a modern gentleman.”