Hitchcock’s violins trembled in the Sorbonne. Gold-plated CCTV cameras lurking in modernist chandeliers twisted their necks. And, as the first model came out at S / S ’23, a new era began for Rhude, the flagship label for 29-year-old LA designer Rhuigi Villaseñor, who, just three years after his debut at Paris Fashion Week, has gone from potential dazzling in a real fashion brand.
He has come a long way. What started life as a disposable T-shirt with a bandana print quickly bought by Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg has turned into an impressive, multi-label that now counts Big Sean, A $ AP Rocky, Offset, Future and the Hadid sisters among their fans. The latest collection, New Money, has a tongue firmly placed on one cheek, while at the same time paying homage to its “streetwear” roots: an expression that revolved around with such abandonment that it could lose all meaning if there were no designers like Villaseñor. He understands that.
Because Rhude’s streetwear is a city-born thing, but it stays on its back moving from central LA to the Hollywood Hills. His fans are the new jet set. And no, they didn’t come through hedge funds and non-taxable inheritance pots. Instead, Villaseñor came to the U.S. from the Philippines at age 11 and broke into the industry without formal fashion training.
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In the latest show, that meant the oil of everything that is currently in fashion. Military shirts with floral prints and pointed cut. Collar-like necklaces from the 1970s and slices of Jagger leather. Rhude’s distinctive retro tobacco type of knitwear and tangerine tracksuit. There were even elegant Rydell High T-shirts and cardigans with Ralph Lauren-like prints belonging to Mr. Ralph Lauren’s second, third and fourth homes. Montauk meets the MTV base. And then there were the shades of Mr Ripley / Greenleaf (Cuban shirt with a collar), and a touch of Futurism from the Matrix era (sunglasses with beetle eyes), and the primary shades of Mittleurope (perhaps a hunch, like Villaseñor set to debut on his first performing as the creative director of the Swiss brand Bally this September).
Sounds like a lot. And it is. But it works. As Rhude freely and wildly withdraws from the multiverse of menswear, Villaseñor’s choice and blending of fashion is still somehow cohesive. This outfit looks perfectly matched with the new set “New money “, which refuses to play by the old rules. Collections no longer have to follow the line of a seasonal theme. They don’t have to limit themselves to project a vision. These are clothes that have fun and feel fun when you’re in them.
In fact, they are all infinitely wearable: a sure sign that any brand is making serious commercial moves. Which is the goal of one label in that weird passing phase between the hot new stuff and the main part of fashion week. “All the money is gone” the singer complained on the series ’lo-fi soundtrack. Chances are that the bank account was emptied in Rhude.
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