James Franco’s Paly Hollywood Brings Hollywood’s Underbelly to Milan’s Antonioli

MILAN — Paly Hollywood is continuing its select wholesale push, debuting at Milan’s hip store Antonioli.

The streetwear-skewed fashion brand, which was cofounded and codesigned by James Franco and longtime friend Kyle Lindgren, landed at the store Friday with a collection of six one-of-a-kind biker jackets and a T-shirt devoted to Robert Blake.

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The movie star and his partner traveled to Milan to celebrate the launch and sat down for a talk with WWD to shed light on the brand’s genesis, which has been revealed in several installments since Paly Hollywood was established in 2022.

The brand disclosed Franco’s involvement only last year, as reported, highlighting that the artworks appearing on the tight collection of distressed T-shirts, sweatshirts, hand-knit sweaters and leather pieces were his.

Franco has long had a love for art and attended the Rhode Island School of Design’s art graduate program. During the pandemic, triggered by Jerry Saltz’s book “Art Is Life,” he started drawing daily and has so far amassed 7,000 to 8,000 sketches, stored on a Google Drive, Lindgren said.

“From the beginning, we’ve really tried to do it in an organic way. And to build [the brand] at a healthy speed, let’s say we’re at the speed that should be, so that we don’t get lost, so that it stays like we wanted [it to be] from the very beginning. This art project, in a way, it wasn’t about racing to get as big as possible, as fast as possible…this is first and foremost a creative project for us,” Franco said.

For one, the graphics and artworks’ subjects are drawn from what the pair knows best: Tinseltown.

They highlight the “underbelly of Hollywood [which is] such a weird and dark place,” as Lindgren put it, focusing on Hollywood’s tragedies, conspiracies and niche heroes, featuring instantly recognizable figures ranging from James Dean and Jayne Mansfield to producer Don Simpson and Larry Fortensky, the construction worker who became the seventh and final husband of Elizabeth Taylor.

The Paly Hollywood collection features graphics from James Franco's art.
The Paly Hollywood collection features graphics from James Franco’s art.

The six vintage and distressed Schott leather jackets debuting exclusively at Antonioli were sourced in the secondhand market, then airbrushed with Franco’s artwork and embellished with vintage patches, pins and tchotchkes. They are dedicated to different dead actors, from Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood to James Dean, Rudolph Valentino and Steve McQueen, among others.

“It kind of sounds weird, but these jackets are like, spells.…These are each a little kind of death cult in a way of like, trying to just bring some of that spirit back,” Franco said.

Ditto for the Robert Blake T-shirt, which sheds light on the actor’s later career, which unraveled when he was arrested for the murder of his second wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. Blake was eventually acquitted of the murder in criminal court in 2005, but he was found liable in a civil court for her wrongful death.

Paly Hollywood stocks its fashion at select retailers including H.Lorenzo, The Webster, Patron of the New, Dover Street Market in New York and Los Angeles, and London’s LN-CC, among others.

Although the pair is not in a rush to grow bigger, they are mindful that the business side of the project needs to be taken care of. They have been advised by Lindgren’s father since the inception of the company and recently consulted with Josh Levine, the founder of denim company Frame.

“I love to embrace the balance [between creativity and business],” Franco said. “I think if you figure out a way to sort of let both of those sides in and really listen to people, you know, we’ve got to meet incredible people.…I’ve tried to really grow up as a creative and bring that side of it into my life because I was missing it somehow.”

Franco’s creative venture feels different to him than starring in blockbuster movies, he said.

“I made my living by being on screen and my face being on that screen. And there’s something really nice about this, about it being mostly about the work.…We haven’t done any ads with me wearing the clothes or anything like that, because it’s about the work,” he said.

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