All Rights reserved
Even rock stars get sick. When we meet John Varvatos ahead of the unveiling of his fall-winter multimedia experience, Rock is Dead?, the designer is just recovering from a bad cold, but the adrenaline kick of Fashion Week is slowly bringing him back to life, echoeing the running theme of his latest menswear collection: The revival (or persistence, rather) of rock'n'roll.
For someone who breathes and lives rock, questioning its relevance today seems to be the ultimate provocation. "It's not just about rock music," Varvatos explains, "it's about rock as a lifestyle and the way people look at the world today: the vibe that's out there with everything from the presidential election, with the characters we have running. I think we need more voices, more rebels, and they're out there: We just need to look for them and listen to them."
The experience, which Varvatos nicknames "JV's Fun House" looks like a rock'n'roll freak show. The latest fall-winter collection is displayed in a series of thematic rooms, where mannequins and live models, masked with animal heads, showcase Varvatos's designs. Presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are there too, turned into makeshift models thanks to a smart projection device. "I wanted to tell a story, and make people think throughout," Varvatos says. "By the end of the installation, you get the sense that rock is alive and well."
The designer and his team have worked on Rock Is Dead? since last October, after Varvatos decided to shut down the naysayers. "I have my own record label with Universal Republic, and people would say 'But isn't rock dead?'. When I hear that, I get kinda like 'Are you serious? You're just sitting there in your apartment, you're just not looking for it in the right places.' I think rock is on the edge of blowing up again. Between EDM and pop there's only so much you can handle. Young people are rediscovering '60s and '70s music, buying vinyls. That music was so good. Put on a Rolling Stone album, a Bowie album: They were doing what they felt, and didn't listen to anyone. That's where we need to go back to: Let's get behind the innovators, the disruptive ones."
Click through to see a preview of the collection and interactive exhibition space.