Ok, so, imagine that the artisanal character of the Provence region in France was cast over a city, what would happen? A fresh kind of elegance would emerge, one that has both hard and soft edges. This complex and yet effortless muse was the inspiration behind John Varvatos’s SS17 collection, dubbed ‘The Urban Romantic’.
The collection embodies a nod to old word craftsmanship whilst simultaneously celebrating modern menswear trends. ‘The Urban Romantic’ may be a city-dweller obsessed with contemporary culture, but there is also a softer side inspired by heritage. It’s this idea that is evident in the collection, which progressed from classic proportions and treatment to impressive creative innovations.
The collection began with a fresh tonal look. The lush calfskin asymmetric jacket with an embossed crocodile skin motif came first, followed by an almond hued buffed suede jacket with a supple texture that looked very ‘rough-and-tumble’. Next up was an asymmetric jacquard knit jacket with a multi-button closure, layered over a linen wheat-hued vest flecked with metallic fibers. This subtly sheened vest had been cold-dyed by hand for a vintage-inspired look.
As the show went on, a satisfying blend of natural contrasts began to appear, merging elephant grey and tomato red with antique whites and earthy suedes. In a nod towards the Urban Romantic’s love of options, a similarly wide spectrum of jacket silhouettes emerged, crafted from silk, wool and linen, including a fencing jacket and one, two and three multi-button offerings. In a thoroughly modern move, Varvatos merged a shirt back with a washed suede deconstructed motorcycle jacket front, whilst a separate moto jacket was elongated to thigh length in a creative proportional update. The shawl collar jacquard tuxedo that followed had a single-button silhouette and an abstract micro animal print which looked seriously cool.
Varvatos’s new approach to texture upgraded conventional knitwear crafted from cashmere-silk and linen-silk blends, as the shawl collar cardigan with shoulder cable knit demonstrated. Trouser silhouettes remained elongated and sophisticated, although the denim offerings infused a welcome bit of edge, as seen in the white jeans with a vertical zip down the thigh.
Strapped and Chained
Moving onto the shoes, they certainly signaled a fresh approach to concept and construction. The narrow-toed boots with tornado-style zip closures that wrap the ankle featured ring-adorned hardware and distressed leather straps layered over hidden chains. The luxe Venetian slip-ons had embossed fleur-de-lis soles, whilst another pair were marked by a ghosting technique that reveals the texture of laces beneath the shoe’s surface.
All in all, the texture and character of the collection succeed in representing both a rich history and an ever-evolving future. Varvatos’s fresh colour palette and seamless contrasting of structured and soft exemplified the complex and challenging muse that is the Urban Romantic. Once again, John Varvatos has succeeded in delivering a collection that speaks to the sophisticated, modern man.