John Varvatos closed Men’s Fashion Week in New York with his signature fusion of spectacle, elegance, and The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” blasting at the audience from all angles. His 17th menswear show took a step away from the typical runways of the Skylight Clarkson Square for a grander venue: the historic Diamond Horseshoe, a restored ballroom in Midtown, complete with grand staircases and elaborate light fixtures.
“I didn’t want to show in the regular box where everyone else does it, where CFDA does it,” Varvatos reveals. “I was looking for someplace that connected with the show. And we recalled this space – when you go down there you’ve just set the mood for it, it’s pretty amazing. And most people haven’t been there. I’ve talked to a hundred people today about it, and only one or two had been there before.”
Varvatos‘ show ended Men’s Week on a furry, textured note: his collection was replete with long, calfskin, leopard hair jackets, suede pants, and handmade boots.
“Last season was the Urban Romantic,” he explains, referring to his last menswear collection, complete with elegant lacey cuffs and sophisticated wools. “We started this season thinking, ‘It’s that guy. That’s our guy.’ I felt it was really my note. But I felt there was another part of that guy, of all guys, that I call ‘Wild at Heart.’ He may have this business job, he may be in a suit all day, it may only come out once in a great while – for some it comes once a week, some only at night.
And the choice of venue?
“I felt there was this Wild at Heart spirit and I thought, ‘What a great place to do that,’ down in the Diamond Horseshoe, which is a place of fantasy, where you go to escape. And the clothes also reflect that. There’s that very romantic feel that we carry on, because that’s our guy; it’s his side where he can be more adventurous.”
Varvatos is so absorbed by the textures and textiles of his latest collection he’s hard-pressed to pick a favorite, standout piece.
“The first look coming out is just so gorgeous. Then when we get halfway into it, and those lynx jackets start coming out… it’s just so rich. You live with it, so it’s hard to have a favorite piece. If someone said, ‘Pick your 8 favorite looks,’ I might be able to do that.”
Creating an entire fashion line is never easy, but only made more difficult during times of great political and cultural upheaval. On fashion as it fits into the current socio-political climate, Varvatos offers:
“This week alone has been an emotional week for a lot of people, with all the things that are going on. Every night some other explosive thing is happening – it seems impossible. Part of me wanted to make a bigger statement on the runway about it all, but it’s hard to do, to be politically correct, during Fashion Week, without off-putting people. One thing I’m excited about, though, is that tere are marches and protests – and I believe that a lot of young people making their voices heard. I think now that we’re feeling the real impact [of this new presidency], and our voices need to be out there. This is a country we love, and a people we love.”