- Text Lewis Firth
- 3rd February 2016
long live rock n roll
“Is rock dead?” was the question anchoring John Varvatos’ thinking this season. “Rock extends beyond a genre… [it] embodies a lifestyle unlike any other – but that way of life is threatened by a modern obsession with mass-produced ideas and instant gratification.” Hinting at the possibility of Instagram-based vacuousness and the rise of celebrity culture destroying the fabric of subcultures, tribes and the like, Varvatos’ message was clear in its unapologetic dark-romanticism with the Bowery store (the old site of iconic punk venue CBGB’s) bordered up – “a sign of mourning” – and coffins inside lined with corpses of rock causalities due to an overly bubblegum culture on digital steroids.
Motorcycle jackets, pants and accessories are rendered in hand-aged leathers, hand-lacing, while subtle prints continue this undercurrent of historical poignancy – something worn, used, but with venerability.
Surrealism was core to the presentation, represented through a multi-sensory installation with animal-headed mannequins – eagles, hawks and zebras were among the few, with animal prints a large component of the collection – items from the collection displayed in picture frames on the wall, legs hanging from walls with spotlighted rock lyrics surrounding the room and faces of those who disrupt and dismantle contrasted against those who harmonise society. Everything prompted guests to mull and muse.
Tailoring was core to the line-up, some with contrasting piping and one with a question-mark appliqué that looked familiarly like The Riddler’s insignia from Batman Forever. “It’s time to do something different—to cause disruption,” says Varvatos. “People need to change their lives, their clothing [and] to stop committing to someone else’s uniform and lifestyle.”