In July 2015, John Varvatos presented his Spring/Summer 2016 collection during the inaugural New York Fashion Week: Men's—a big move for an American designer who's shown in Milan for years. "There was never a men's fashion week before, so when they started one last July, they asked me to come," Varvatos explains to Complex. "I was already committed in Milan, but at the last minute I decided I've been in New York for 30 years, I love New York, my brand's in New York. I felt like I needed to help support men's fashion week."
Varvatos, who founded his eponymous label in 2000, admits that he thought about heading back to Milan this season. "We have a big history there," he says. But ultimately, he stayed in New York—and last night presented his Fall/Winter 2016 collection in an unusual way. "I thought of doing something completely out of left field, something that wasn't a standard runway show, something that was more thought-provoking," he says.
The "experience," as Varvatos calls it, was held in a space that plays on Varvatos' love for Rock music, all the way from the background music to phrases like, "Rock Is Dead?" spray painted on the walls. There were also video screens that flashed images of the likes of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, and models wearing the brand's signature tailored pieces—and animals masks. It was definitely over the top.
And that was the point. "I wanted to be very provocative for people to think about what's going on out there," Varvatos says about the multimedia experience. "I want people to think about Rock as not music but Rock as a way of life. People should be rebellious, let their voice be heard, they should be disruptive to the norm. We have people running for President right now that nobody likes. What is that all about? This is the best country in the world. How could we let that happen?"