John Varvatos Store Opening Party

Varvatos Rocks Madison Avenue

All photos Lieba Nesis
(click on images for larger views)

John Varvatos held the opening of his store at 765 Madison Avenue on one of the first balmy evenings of the year with a turnout that was immense.  The cocktails began at 7:PM and lasted until 9:30PM with streams of people squeezing into the 4200 square foot space.  Varvatos, 58, started his company, featuring menswear, in late 1999 and debuted his first collection at the end of 2000 in New York.  The brand now includes belts, handbags, footwear, eyewear, watches and fragrances.

John Varvatos

Varvatos credits his obsession with rock n’ roll as leading him into the world of high fashion and his ad campaigns have featured bands such as Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, and Dave Matthews.  Varvatos received the Perry Ellis Award for Menswear in 2000 and the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award in 2005.  In 2007 he was named GQ’s Designer of the Year and his career trajectory has been on the upswing since.  The crowd’s diversity was reflective of the varied group he dresses, ranging from architects and investment bankers to models and CNN Correspondents; Chris and Cristina Cuomo were the hosts along with architects and designers Campion Platt and T.R. Pescod.

DJ Alexandra Richards

There was a palpable excitement in the room which was heightened by the presence of DJ Alexandra Richards, Keith Richards daughter, quietly spinning tunes in the corner.  Even Evander Holyfield made a brief appearance although he said he had very little interest in fashion.  Holyfield said he dresses without too much thought or planning- his exact words were “I wear what they give me” but he looked dapper nonetheless.

Angel  & Gabriel Silverstein

The design of the store is a modern view of a traditional Upper East Side apartment with a skylight atrium, white oak herringbone floors, convex mirrored covered ceilings and one-of-a-kind hand signed works by famous music photographers adorning the walls.  This is Varvatos’ s third store in New York with the other two stores located downtown; a chic menswear store catering to a young clientele is somewhat of a novelty on Madison Avenue.  John Varvatos, who was wearing his own designs from head to toe, told me he was bringing “downtown uptown, to shake uptown up a little bit.”  He opened a month ago and said they are “just rocking” the uptown location attributing his success to following his own path without heeding trends or catering to the fashion press but rather remaining loyal foremost to his customer.  The store will also feature a personalized wardrobe service and a made to measure program.  John said he noticed a “return to elegance”  for men who no longer want to dress up in beat up jeans and sloppy t-shirts.

Cristina Cuomo and Chris Cuomo

Cristina Cuomo, who has been friends with John for 25 years, and whose husband Chris Cuomo, the CNN correspondent, showed up in head to toe Varvatos, said the clothing is so well fitted and styled that John continues to be a phenomenon due to his hip-vibey attire.  Campion Platt, a famed architect and one of the hosts of the evening, has never worn nor met Varvatos until this evening for which he was fitted with a cool embroidered jacket and pointy shoes.  He was notified by management that the target demographic for the Varvatos line was 27 to 55 so Platt was pleased that at the age of 55 he just made the cutoff.  He also said he would consider purchasing this clothing in the future since he liked the design and fit.

T.R. Pescod and Gigi Stoll

T.R. Pescod, a designer and magazine editor and another host of the evening, was wearing Varvatos, and recalled one of his first big fashion purchases being a shearling coat costing thousands, which he bought at the Soho boutique.  Pescod likes the clothing because it is comfortable, easy to wear and has a sexy edge which is difficult to achieve in menswear.

Elise Brudenel

Varvatos and his wife Joyce made their way around the room posing for pictures and greeting the crowd with warmth and attentiveness. Even model Elise Brudenel, who showed up in Agent Provocateur lingerie and thigh high boots, only briefly took the attention away from the Varvatos’s since this was their night to wow the crowd.  Upon leaving the event I learned that Varvatos had just started his own record label called JV records and might even start a womenswear line.  The imminent closing of Roseland Ballroom has put the final curtain on the disco and glam rock era of the 70’s; however, with designers such as Varvatos there is sure to be continued innovation and creativity in fashion for decades to come.

– Lieba Nesis

Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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