He sees the Bally man swaying around in delicate pieces distinguished by their craft and materials: “We’re talking wool, python, vicuña silk – you have to be a real person. focused on finding a silk tank top.” He showed me a silk polo shirt and a “super-tailored” biker jacket in soft lambskin, along with his slim-toed flats with lightweight, vintage-style heels. he unearthed from the archives. There is no certainty or loose thread that he incorporated into Rhude. “Really, I want people to wear wingtips and listen to jazz,” he sighed.
Not what you’d expect from a designer often included in the streetwear category, a term that connotes second-rate fashion, he complained, can have racist connotations. “It’s about the audience,” he frowned. At one point, Rhuigi showed me photos of some new inspiration: the European road signs that appeared on his travels. “If I do streetwear, I’ll do what you see on the street!”
“Another Aperol Spritz, please,” he told the waiter and finally agreed to show me some previews of Bally’s new womenswear designs. I see a safari pocket and a front button. “It was a jumpsuit,” he said. A white leather hunting bodysuit. Another style reminiscent of Guy Laroche’s famous trophy-cut black dress worn by French movie star Mireille Darc in 1972 – with an accompanying pair of panties and a little more booty.
“I am updating this lifestyle for where we are today,” he said. “We’ve been locked up for too long and now we’re ready to have some fun.” He chose a single look to encapsulate his collection: a white silk blouse with natural loop rouleau buttons at the front, worn with a cognac leather envelope skirt held together only with a clip on the hip bone – that ta-da touch reveals the model’s legs from top to bottom. Europe meets the US scandal.
Culture references collide in the collection. He pulled up a photo of a bag with wooden block handles inspired by vintage Swiss toy making. A bracelet with emerald-cut gems in gold designs, he said, represents the “Earthquake Baroque Style,” an indication of the Philippine architectural style. developed during reconstruction after earthquakes in the 17th and 18th centuries. “It would be a shame if I didn’t amplify my legacy at a house like this,” he said, sipping his food. . “I want to talk about my personal stories and legacy along with the legacy of the brand.”
Visions of Milan’s future collide when Rhuigi introduces his runway show at the city’s Fabbrica del Vapore, a youthful arts and culture institution in a former train factory. It comes the day before national elections in Italy, which the Italian Heirs’ Brotherhood party is predicted to win, ushering in an era of resistance to state-sponsored hate and entitlement to immigrants, women and the LGBTQ+ community. Giorgia Meloni, the putative prime minister, cited anti-immigration baloney “The Great Alternative” in public statements.
Bally may have chosen Rhuigi to reach younger tastes and the American market, and for her talent to capture the ravings of her followers, but it’s also important to see a Filipino designer lead the brand in this climate, on the runway in Milan, where Filipinos make up the largest immigrant group in the city. Girotto told me that for the company, which has its second headquarters in Milan and is participating in the city’s fashion week, Rhuigi’s appointment is not “to highlight or for diversity elements, but rather are the choices we make that show who and what fashion needs to represent positive choices.”
As an American living in Italy with deep anxiety about Meloni’s fear-inducing ascension, I can’t hide that I’m looking for Rhigi here. I’m excited to see this city, this country and this corner of Europe open to new ideas, to youth, to subcultures, to foreign cultures, to this kind of hybridism liberally nurtured visions like Rhude’s American hybrid style. Fashion is not politics, but it is the barometer of our times, and right now Milan needs every sign of possible progress. All would be better if it was equipped with luxurious silk tops and glamorous leather skirts.
Laura Rysman is a writer of Florence origin and Monocle’Italian Central Correspondent.
Photo taken by Federico Barbieri
Styled by Alessia Caliendo
Brushed by Ricky Morandin at W-MManagement using Lierac