Detroit native John Varvatos has been putting his unique, rock and roll spin on menswear for more than 25 years, first at Polo Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein and, since 2000, as the head of his own eponymous label – one Varvatos’ describes as being “functional, timeless clothing that is created to be lived in,” which earned him a Perry Ellis Award for New Menswear Designer the same year it launched. He won a CFDA Award for Menswear Designer of the Year just one year later, and was awarded the prize again in 2005.
Today, the music-loving designer (and self-proclaimed “shoe junkie”) also puts his signature stamp on a highly successful collection for Converse, his own line has grown to include skincare, fragrance, denim, eyewear, knits and watches, and he routinely dresses the rock stars (Aerosmith, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick) he grew up listening to in Detroit Rock City way back when.
The Fashion Informer was able to grab a few minutes with the elusive Mr. Varvatos between opening new stores (eight and counting), unveiling his new fragrance, Artisan, and announcing the launch of a new “younger, funkier” footwear collection for fall 2009 – part of his Star USA bridge line - to talk snacks, serum and music (natch).
What's in current rotation on your iPod?
A few of my current go-tos are Alejandro Escovedo, MC5, The Stooges, The Hellacopters —and over 35, 000 others in rotation!
What did you have for lunch today?
Toro and Hamachi Sushi with Miso soup.
Other than Converse All-Stars, what do you consider a quintessential classic American fashion item?
Vintage motorcycle boots.
What was the first fragrance you ever wore? What is your signature scent these days?
I really can’t remember… Hai Karate? My signature scent is a new fragrance I recently created called Artisan. It just came out.
Tell me about your favorite item of jewelry or clothing and why it's so special to you.
I still love my vintage motorcycle jacket from high school. Also, I collect watches, so I am really psyched about creating my first timepiece, which is coming out this year in partnership with Ernst Benz.
What's the one grooming aid you cannot live without?
The Eye Serum from my Skin line saves me when traveling extensively or after a late night.
What's the first concert you ever went to? Most recent?
First concert: 1969 Led Zeppelin - enough said! My most recent concert, which blew me away, was AC/DC – they came out and hit hard like a freight train for two mind-blowing hours!
What do like to do for fun?
My favorite pastime is hunting for vintage vinyl – no matter where I am.
Tell me about the last trip you took for pleasure. Would you go back?
I escaped to Mustique and found it to be one of the few places I can relax and recoup. So yes, I intend on returning.
When it comes to snacks, do you prefer salty or sweet?
Salty - hands down.
What's your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving, as it is a special time to be with family and friends.
What one question would you like to ask God, assuming s/he exists?
When is the economy going to turn around?
What never fails to make you cry?
When are you happiest?
When I spend time with my wife and my new baby daughter.
Stay tuned for Random Questions For…Norma Kamali