MILAN: Backstage With John Varvatos
It was stifling in Northern Italy, to say the least. No light-weight linen two-button suit or chauffeured Mercedes S500 could save even the savviest fashion editor this weekend in Milano. But day one carried on without a hitch; editors sported sharp suits and colorful summer chic, in spite of sweaty brows and insufficient (or nonexistent) air conditioning.
We met up with John Varvatos who selected the Chiesa sconsacrata di San Paolo Converso again as his venue for his Summer 2013 show, which took notes from youthful elegance and military debonair, in addition to the typical rockstar grunge. Seude vests and lightweight suits in white, olive green, black and splashes of raspberry were accessorized with straw hats and leather totes with metallic punk detailing.
“We are in our twelfth year and part of it feels like we are just starting,” Mr. Varvatos explained about his collection downstairs after his show. “We’ve got a lot of things going on all over the world… not only the U.S. The brand is really growing fast so it’s easy to be stimulated.”
It is true, in the past decade the John Varvatos empire has expanded rapidly. “It’s a good time for us we are really growing globally,” he said.
When asked about how he balanced designing his label and serving as a co-host and mentor for the new reality fashion show “Fashion Star,” Mr. Varvatos described his hectic schedule.
“Last summer was tough because I was the one person flying back and forth. I would fly out Thursday night, we would shoot Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday night finish at 9 and I would take the red eye back. So there was no summer. Fourth of July to Labor Day there was not a day. It was a long summer but fun. I love Kara [Laricks],” Mr. Varvatos said of the Fashion Star winner. “The second season will even be better, because every season you learn a lot — you know everybody learns a lot about what you need to better and improvement.”
Having an American company based in New York and presenting in Milano takes a lot of work and organization. Mr. Varvatos confessed it’s not as glamorous as one may believe. “I am in the showroom the entire. We eat in the showroom…”
An extra surprise for many editors, buyers and stylists was the boiling heat and humidity that Milan was plagued with Saturday June 23, the first day of runway shows. Mr. Varvatos said, “It wasn’t easy this week in Milan. Everyday was a fight with the air conditioning units and everything else… But you know what? If you don’t think hot, you stay a little cooler. None of us wanted to complain.”
Since air conditioning the 17th century church was not exactly a possibility, Mr. Varvatos commented: “We kept the lights off.”
Heat and all, the show was a success. As day turned to night and the production team packed up the Varvatos set, the designer hinted that fun times were soon to begin: “I’m planning on attending the GQ party tonight, should be fun…” We agreed that spending the evening at a GQ party with your creative team would, indeed, be fun.