Rhuigi Villaseñor titled his spring collection “The Audacity to Dream” — a reference not just to the escapist thoughts that are tiding him through the coronavirus pandemic, but to his journey since arriving from the Philippines to the U.S. at the age of nine.
“This is the first collection that marks me as an American citizen,” he said via Zoom from Los Angeles, referring to his naturalization in June. “After 20 years of waiting, I made it happen.”
The designer has gained a cult following with his fresh take on American sportswear, seen through the eyes of an immigrant.
Having pushed the label upscale with streamlined tailoring last season, he took a back-to-basics approach, cutting the number of looks by half and honing in on retro-style casual clothes tailor-made for lounging at home — or in the case of the models in his video, a modernist villa in California with a lush garden and pool.
“I’m designing, I guess, in a better way,” Villaseñor reflected. There were boxy tops including a Hawaiian shirt, Boy Scout shirts hand-painted with travel-themed motifs and a hybrid polo shirt-cum-sweater that drooped over a pair of oversized leather shorts.
A chocolate brown cashmere tracksuit was cut so large, it seemed to melt off the body, while baggy shorts were an homage to Michael Jordan, after weeks spent watching “The Last Dance” on Netflix. Faded jeans, inspired by vintage Levi’s 501s, featured a curved zipper detail at the ankle.
New accessories included the eye-catching Jacq handbag, with a triangle carved out at the base, and the brand’s first in-house eyewear line, following an earlier collaboration with Thierry Lasry.
Villaseñor, who hasn’t been to the beach since the California lockdown took effect, also designed a maxi-sized towel with the slogan: “No One Is Closer to Me Than You Right Now.” Like he said, a guy can dream.