September 09, 2007
The key to John Varvatos' fashion sensibility might be found in the last outfit that made its way down his catwalk: a tuxedo jacket and jeans. It's a quintessential dressed-up-rocker combo, the sort of thing that a Varvatos fave like Jesse Malin (front-row center, in a painful-looking neck-and-back brace arrangement) might wear to an awards show. Perhaps he'd even tie a silky scarf around his waist, the way Varvatos showed it. The designer made his mark with collections that delivered American frontier spirit with European finesse, and he's gone on honing that proposition (the seta collage of dusty, cracked old window framessimultaneously suggested a Wild West ghost town and abandoned buildings in the Eastern bloc). His latest standouts included a fitted, zippered jacket that bloused in the back, a mushroom-toned military jacket, and a slate cotton tux. Given the commercial expansion envisaged for this label, there was a subtle boldness in the light gauge of the knits and the asymmetry of jacket and coat closings. But what would be truly great would be to see Varvatos tapping some of the contrary spirit of his other front-row face: Alice Cooper. Amid all the tastefully subtle aging, dyeing, and tailoring, it wouldn't hurt him to throw in the occasional jolt of black eyeliner.