The Sound of Music
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John Varvatos | Mentor
Varvatos grew up in Detroit - the music melting pot of America - where Motown, rock 'n' roll, blues, jazz and punk melded together in an unforgettable period of music history. At an early age, Varvatos was exposed to defining musicians including The Who, Led Zeppelin, Detroit's own MC5, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger and The Stooges. The creative spirit, electricity and edginess intrinsic in the personal style of these rock 'n' roll icons inspired Varvatos at an early age and influenced the evolution of his eclectic sensibility. This can be seen as a unifying theme in his design and it is deeply ingrained in every expression of his brand, including his famed 315 Bowery boutique in New York City, formerly the seminal underground music club CBGB, where Varvatos pays tribute to the musical heritage of this legendary site. With this unique brand position that unites a rock 'n' roll sensibility and old-world craftsmanship with modern innovation, Varvatos has become one of the most well-known menswear designers in the world.
Varvatos' designs often draw inspiration from the past only to repurpose these ideas into something entirely new. The resulting collections reflect the quality and attention to detail inherent in old world tailoring, while creating luxurious, comfortable clothing for a modern lifestyle. "I have a great reverence for the craft of old-world tailoring but a big part of what I love designing is functional, timeless clothing that is created to be lived in."
Varvatos joined Polo Ralph Lauren in 1983. Recruited by Calvin Klein in 1990, he was appointed head of menswear design and oversaw the launch of the men's collection and the influential ck brand. In 1995, he returned to Polo as head of menswear design for all Polo Ralph Lauren brands and created the highly successful Polo Jeans Company.
For fall/winter 2000, Varvatos launched his premiere men's collection and in the same year was recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) with the Perry Ellis Award for New Menswear Designer. He received a second CFDA award for Menswear Designer of the Year in 2001; this successive honor was an unprecedented achievement in this category. In 2005, Varvatos was once more recognized by the CFDA with the Menswear Designer of the Year Award and in 2007 GQ magazine named Varvatos "Designer of the Year" in its 12th Annual "Men of the Year" issue. Spring 2009 saw the launch of "New York Nights," a monthly radio show hosted by Varvatos on SIRIUS XM's Spectrum channel. The show includes songs and interviews from various artists who have influenced Varvatos throughout his career in fashion.
In March 2012, Varvatos joined the cast of celebrity mentors on NBC's "Fashion Star," the new reality competition series that searches for the next big brand in fashion. "Fashion Star" returns for Season 2 in spring 2013.
Follow John on Twitter: @johnvarvatos