This fall, designer John Varvatos will celebrate 10 years in business with an ad campaign, commemorative eyewear and fragrance, and a bash in the Bowery.
The men’s wear brand has always aligned comfortably with the designer’s other passion, rock music. Fittingly, the anniversary campaign, an homage to the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album, is a collage of 39 musicians who have either appeared in past ads or are simply friends of the designer. They include Lenny Kravitz, Slash, Iggy Pop, Franz Ferdinand, Alice Cooper and ZZ Top.
Some of the artists will no doubt headline the party-concert on Sept. 11 during New York Fashion Week. The event is going to be held at 315 Bowery, the John Varvatos store on the former site of the seminal rock club CBGB, and lubricated by the launch of Stillhouse Original Moonshine. Two tickets to the private event will be given away to the winner of an upcoming Facebook contest.
In spring 2005, John Varvatos, in collaboration with Stephen Niedzwiecki, a co-founder of creative agency Yard, and Danny Clinch, the acclaimed music photographer, unveiled the first in an iconic series of ad campaigns featuring legendary rock artists. For the anniversary campaign, Niedzwiecki drew inspiration not only from Sgt. Pepper, he said, but also from the witty imagery of Monty Python and the assemblage artists of the Beat Era.
“The art around this time of people such as Wallace Berman and Bruce Conner presented a major use of collaging and video montages,” said Niedzwiecki. “There was a visual language that was created that involved using found imagery. We were inspired by this period because from a conceptual standpoint, we had to use existing imagery to create an impactful piece of art.”
Varvatos added, “It’s about friends and family and bringing together all of the artists who have either been in our campaigns or who have encouraged us along the way.”
The media buy includes September pages in Vanity Fair, GQ, Esquire and Details for the U.S., as well as Vogue Homme, L’Uomo Vogue, Fantastic Man and Wonderland. There will be outdoor ads on New York and San Francisco bus shelters, Los Angeles billboards and Las Vegas taxi tops.
All John Varvatos stores and the brand’s Web site will support the anniversary with visual displays, and Varvatos will make personal appearances in stores throughout September.
The anniversary celebration started early, in June, with a small party in Milan’s Hotel Diana, where Varvatos blew out 10 candles on a cake. For two years, the designer has been holding his runway show in Milan, in a deconsecrated church.
Varvatos designed for Polo Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein before he launched his own line in 2000. From the outset it encompassed tailored clothing, sportswear, outerwear, accessories and shoes. He opened his first boutique in New York’s SoHo, now one of nine nationwide. The company was soon bought by Nautica, which was in turn acquired by VF Corp. In 2005, he entered into a new partnership with VF called John Varvatos Enterprises, where he serves as chief executive officer. The brand has gone on to do fragrance, eyewear, a contemporary second line called Star USA, and a lucrative ongoing collaboration with Converse.
For the anniversary, Varvatos opted to focus on fragrance and limited edition eyewear.
The John Varvatos 10th Anniversary Special Edition fragrance, produced in partnership with Elizabeth Arden, is scheduled for release in October through prestige department stores nationwide. The oriental amber scent comes in a bottle with a metallic chrome finish and adorned with a signature dog tag, an evolution of the brand’s original fragrance bottle. The anniversary fragrance will be supported with additional dedicated ads.
The anniversary sunglasses will retail for $490, exclusively at John Varvatos stores in September.
“We wanted to make pieces that are collectible and very special. They’re packaged differently, finished differently….We were looking at our heritage, and mixing in a bit of rock ’n’ roll,” said Varvatos.
The frames are fairly classic shapes, made of spotted-tortoise or black-pearl acetate, then decorated with metal embellishments drawn from the studio library of jewelry, hardware and cast details that have appeared in past ready-to-wear collections. For example, a sleek, squared aviator style features cast metal skulls that give a rock ’n’ roll edge to a traditional look. Another style, similar in shape to a Wayfarer, features crossed pistols on the temples and bullets on top of the brow. Each pair has laser engraving filled with silver epoxy, denoting the frame’s unique number out of 300. And each right lens displays a signature double V, for the two Vs in Varvatos.
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