Design industries are more connected than one can imagine, from core values, to techniques, behaviors, and trends, one can take inspiration from another and re-learn as necessary. Rhuigi Villaseñor, the new creative director of Bally, takes this to heart. The rich historical references and inter-cultural lifestyle that built the brand before became his core design strategy in reinventing Bally. Bally has become widely known for its leather craftsmanship in handbags and shoes, and in the early days of hip-hop’s surge in the 1980’s. As he mentioned, Bally is “a sleeping beauty, or a beautiful classic car sitting in a garage that hasn’t been running for a while.”

ECDYSIS: The Runway Comeback

Bally staged the set-up design at Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan with tall rustic-aged wall panels juxtaposed to stainless steel panels, all swerving along the catwalk, perfectly translating Villaseñor’s concept of Bally’s renaissance. The panels metaphorically interprets the idea of reinventing oneself, with the alternating rustic panels and mirror-finished stainless steel, seemingly shedding an old skin to show the new one.

Photo courtesy of Bally’s Instagram Account

Dubbed as ECDYSIS, the collection revolves around the story of shedding the old and revealing the new while staying true to the brand’s origins. Rhugi says, “Throughout my journey exploring the Bally archive, I’ve been inspired by the brand’s codes around art, graphic design, architecture and nature, and I’m excited to interpret this heritage with a new vision”.  It was also about assimilating the old Hollywood movies – the likes of James Dean, young Elvis and Lou Reed- and turning them into iconic wearable pieces.

The 171 year old brand has always been known for its impeccable craftsmanship on leatherwork. From its bags, shoes, and accessories, Bally has been known for its leatherwork that exudes European luxury and timelessness. This became the starting point of Villaseñor on reinventing the identity of Bally as he marries his experience on California luxury streetwear to the elegance of European fashion. He becomes inspired  by the Swiss tradition of watchmaking and toy creation. These are translated to the details of the collection’s jewelries, bags, and accessories, all the while adding the 80’s inspired eclectic colors and vignettes.

The collection became a juxtaposition of fabrication, colors, and textures. Canary yellow, forest green and burnt sienna gave extra pops of color amidst the timeless neutral palette of blacks, navy blues and ivory. Additional noteworthy fabrication is the hip presence of engineered denim in tops and trousers.

Rebirth of the Brand

As Rhuigi Villaseñor takes the mantle of Bally comes the rebirth of the brand. Villaseñor boasts the unveiling of the new logo, which would be a restyling from the sans- serif treatment used on the boutiques of the maison in the 1930s. There will also be an overall rebranding for packages and communications, and new store concept design which would pay homage to the history and origins of the brand, yet infusing futuristic and moving characteristics, something to look forward to in 2023.

Images from Melo Albert and Bally

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