John Varvatos closed New York Fashion Week: Men's with an intimate, exclusive 140-seat show in the basement of the Roxy Hotel, in Tribeca. There, a handful of fashion's most influential (we spotted the likes of Colton Haynes, Eric Rutherford, and Kellan Lutz in the front row) witnessed a gorgeous collection of tailored gray wools and cottons, blending timelessness, classic references, and a modern take on silhouettes and grooming.
Squished into a corner of the Django bar, underneath the Roxy, the models looked like European princes strutting through the dungeons and palaces, despite the diminutive space. Here, the designer talks about his collection, and shares his thoughts on the current state of fashion.
Out: Can you tell me about the collection, what inspired it?
John Varvatos: I usually don't have names [for my collections], but it hit me while I was working on this... I'm calling it the Urban Romantic. I thought about my love for the south of France, and these romantic areas that I develop things in, and how that plays into such an urban environment as New York, or London, or Paris or any global big city. And there's young guys who love the modernity and the urbanness of living in a city, between all the arts and opportunities the city gives. But they also have this passion for old world things. And the romance. And that's my guy. I wanted to talk about that guy who loves texture, and detail, and finesse. But still wants to be contemporary.
Is there a specific time period that inspired you?
No. I never think of a specific time period, it feels a little costume-y when I do that. But I'm drawing on elements I love, the romantic feeling from all different periods. It could be a '70s thing, or an 1850s thing. When you see the first look, you'll have this sense of urban romance. It doesn't feel like it's from another time, but it feels like there's the character of history there as well.
Does the current pace of the fashion industry make it more difficult for you to stay creative?
The whole world has changed. We read all these things about people's business being difficult. We use e-commerce and online shopping a lot more, at least this urban guy I'm talking about. He's online. He's not only online searching things, but he's online shopping. And it's changed how people value their time, to a degree. People can say, "I'm a very busy person," and at 11 o'clock at night they can go on to the John Varvatos site and see something, and think, "Wow, these are great," and buy them.
So there's less going into the store, having that experience...
The store is super important to a consumer yet. And a lot of guys pre-shop. They come in and they say, "I was looking for that jacket, with this and that" or whatever they're asking for. Because when they go in there, they don't want to waste any time. But I do think you can never get away from what the show is all about, which is the touch, the feel... That you can't get online. And there's still a lot of people who love to shop in the stores.They love the leisurely part of taking an afternoon and going shopping.
Androgynous fashion is really creeping onto men's runways. Are you embracing the trend?
Our guy has always been a pretty masculine guy --gay, straight, whatever. But there's always been a softness to what we do anyway, and you'll see that in this collection. It's not this whole athleisure thing. I look everywhere, and I see it so much, and I think, "Is that all? Is that all there is?" I still like to dress up! These guys, they love dressing up. They love getting their first suit. But they don't want to look like their dad. They want to do it themselves.
If you were to look at today's style influencers, is there anyone you admire?
We have a lot of those guys who shop with us, and I'm intrigued by how they put things together. It's cool. Creating your own personality, and not worrying about the trend. Making it yours. I've said from the first show, "The uniform is dead." Our guy isn't into the uniform, doesn't care about the big logos. He cares more about creating his own style that says something to his personality and to his character.
Is this season something you can see yourself wearing?
I love these clothes - they're forever. They're not about a moment, a time and place. You pull it out of your closet ten years from now, and you think, "Why haven't I worn this in five years? It looks cooler today!"
Do you have a favorite look in this particular collection?
I don't know if it's my favorite look, but the first look tells the whole story. There's so many others that are great, but that first look, we all felt the same way when we put it on the right guy. It's the look. I don't need a hundred looks if I have that kind of thing.
See all the looks from John Varvatos's latest runway collection in the video, below: