Varvatos and CBGB

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Northland, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. Northland

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    In what can only be seen as a money making venture in greed, CBGB, the once happening outpost on the edges of life (going back to a time when the Bowery was still residence for many down and out drunkards who stayed in cubicles with chicken wire dividers) has been overtaken by the delightfully sexy John Varvatos:
    Designer turning CBGB into a rocking boutique -- Newsday.com


    John Varvatos is not quite a household name yet, but he's working on it.

    Named GQ magazine's 2007 Designer of the Year, he's carving out a niche for himself somewhere between the upscale marketing empire of designer Ralph Lauren, for whom he once worked, and CBGB, the former Bowery flophouse-bar-turned-music-club that helped launch punk rock.

    Varvatos' design aesthetic is, you could say, a little bit preppy, a little bit punk. His menswear is sold at luxury department stores and his own boutiques - including a 6-month-old store in East Hampton now enjoying "killer" sales - and appeals, he says, to businessmen and rockers alike looking for "Old World craftsmanship with an edge." His ad campaigns feature rock stars like Aerosmith's Joe Perry, Alice Cooper and CBGB-alum Iggy Pop.

    So perhaps it's not surprising that the 52-year-old designer was drawn to the 3,300-square-foot space that housed the club CBGB OMFUG from late 1973 until its closing in October 2006. He'll open it in March as a Varvatos boutique, but with a twist.

    "It's definitely going to be a little bit of a museum for rock and roll," he says of the store, at 315 Bowery in Manhattan. "I have to do business there, but it's not going to dishonor what was there.

    "I want people to experience ... some vibe of what was in the space," adds Varvatos, himself a rock fan. "There's not a lot left of what was in the space, but what we create will feel like it's been there."

    He'll create clothes especially for the store, perhaps sell vintage records, stage performances to raise money for a music development fund, and create exhibits on CBGB OMFUG (which stands for Country, Bluegrass and Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers) and its famous acts like the Ramones, Television, Blondie, Talking Heads and Patti Smith.

    He may even launch his store with a party inviting back some of those stars and says, "We don't want anyone to walk into the space and say, 'Oh, they screwed it up.' We want them to walk in and say, 'It's not CBGB, but they did the right thing.'"

    The store will be his second new outlet in the first half of 2008, with a big store set to open in San Francisco in February, and more to follow. They'll join his growing lifestyle brand, which racked up more than $100 million in sales last year and now includes 200-plus employees; offices in New York, London, Hong Kong and Florence, Italy; three clothing and accessory lines; licensed fragrances, eyewear and skin-care products, and five stores.

    His company, formed in 1999, sold a controlling interest three years ago to the VF Corp. of North Carolina, whose lines include North Face, Seven Jeans, Lee and Wrangler Jeans, and Nautica.


    I fondly recall when The Bowery was a place to scurry through. Between the half dead bodies laying along the gutter, the bad lighting, the tempting pleasures awaiting you at Tompkins Square Park and the trucks rumbling along with no regard for human safety, you didn't want to dawdle. It was a place which also had its very own style. There you could buy ovens and other slightly used items for your new restaurant and get all manner of lighting fixtures. There too, one could find the musical oasis of CBGBs (or for the less hip, CBGB OMFUG-I never met anyone who knowingly used the last 5 letters). It was a place of refuge and no matter how Varvatos wants to spin this and prattle on about his desire to maintain dignity with this store/museum, the fact remains that it will never be the same and he would have done better to admit this instead of trying to cash in on battered, bruised memories (of old sentimentalists like me).
     
  2. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    The only thing I know about the Bowery is that there were a couple of guys named Slip Mahoney and Satch Jones who hung around Louie's Sweet Shop.
     
  3. Northland

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    Yeah, that's another beef I have-you can't find a place that makes a decent egg cream anymore either:mad:! (and they stopped showing the old Bowery Boys films on channel 5 after Murdoch came in)
     
  4. Bbucko

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    New York stays NYC by constantly reinventing and recycling itself.

    I miss the milieu of much of the 70s, 80s: Punk/Post-Punk was my thing when it was fresh and alive and had something to relate, something of relevance to me and my peers.

    But time moves on, and we have moved on with it. To stay in one place is to atrophy, and telling the same tale over and over again is pointless. Anyone who wanted to hear it already has; to most people Punk/Post-Punk was just so much noise with artistic pretensions anyway.
     
  5. Northland

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    I still don't have to like it...






    ...and I don't.
     
  6. ZOS23xy

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    Yeah, I was at the Bowrey, long long ago, and watched some bands. I had a girlfriend who was a waitress there, and often played with her band CHEAP PERFUME.

    People do what they want if they have money, even at the risk of offending memories and sensibilities.

    Slip Mahoney. Louie was Slip's real life Dad. Trivia for you all.

    The Bowery Boys flicks, (or the Dead End Kids, or the East Side kids--whatever) are not shown on TV much anymore because of the crime of being in Black and White.
     
  7. Bbucko

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    I don't like it either, sweetheart, but what's the alternative?
     
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