Always busy buying for her A-list Hollywood clients, art adviser Joyce Varvatos is also the wife of designer John Varvatos and close friend of event designer Larry Scott—Scott even handled the Varvatos’ wedding. Peek in on a conversation between the two friends about fashion, design, genius and, of course, unicorns.
Larry Scott with Joyce and John Varvatos in his Manhattan offices
Larry Scott: Do you remember how we met?
Joyce Varvatos: Of course. I had just met John and was driving his old Porsche in the Flatiron District. I hadn’t driven a stick since college and stalled in the middle of traffic. You came to my rescue!
LS: OK, this is how we really met. I was flying from L.A. with friends of mine. I walked into the newly opened John Varvatos store on Melrose Avenue and you said, ‘I saw you on the plane.’ You must have noticed me because I’m 6-foot-4. You introduced me to your boyfriend, John. I was with Al Cowlings and Robin and Bobby Bender—they were all part of the O.J. [Simpson] crew then. Oy, that’s a whole other story. Then a month later, I’m back in New York, and I see this Porsche stalled on Park Avenue. It’s a damsel in distress moment. It’s Joyce! It was three times: the plane, the store and now Park Avenue in a broken-down car! Then I get a call months later from your sister Susan saying, ‘My sister is getting married,’ and she’s describing her and I said, ‘Wait, is that Joyce?’ It’s bashert. In Jewish, that’s ‘meant to be.’
JV: Yikes, totally forgot about the plane and the store. Guess you’re right; it is bashert.
LS: I loved your energy right away and knew we’d be friends.
JV: Well, if we’re going in that direction, let me tell you why I love you. Besides the fact you are superkind and generous, I love your creativity and your ability to realize your vision. I actually see that in both you and JV. The two of you possess a genius that is such a rare trait and one that I am constantly in awe of and attracted to.
LS: I think John is a genius. Maybe that’s not the right word... maybe virtuoso. But I don’t think of myself as one.
JV: You absolutely are. I love how you transform a space into an alternative universe for only a few hours. JV does something similar with his fashion shows. To do that over and over again, you need to possess a certain genius.
LS: Aw, thanks.
JV: Just think what the two of you could create together!
LS: I always said I want to do a fashion show with John. It would be floats and fashion. I would have 20 flatbed trucks going down the street in plain white, and the models would be on there with maybe silver chrome cars so nothing would compete with John’s clothing. A party on steroids down Fifth Avenue!
Event designer Larry Scott with art adviser Joyce Varvatos
JV: I wouldn’t expect anything less from you. Always thinking out of the box.
LS: It’s a curse. The curse is you can’t turn it off. If I’m driving over a bridge looking at the water and trees, then ideas are coming to me. It’s like I have to go into this other zone to turn it off. You need your family and friends to help ground you. I don’t have to explain it to you. I think I get along with you and John so well because you both get it, in terms of balance and vision. I would never say to you, ‘How did you do that? What was your vision?’ When you see what you and John or someone like Philippe Starck have created, you realize it’s one person’s vision with an army underneath it. You have an appreciation of what they put out and that it doesn’t come easy. But we’re not doing it for others. I don’t create for recognition. I’m hard on myself, and it’s driven from within. You and John aren’t going to settle either. I can never breathe until my host walks in and says, ‘Oh my gosh!’ It’s like I’m always waiting on my reviews.
JV: Not to go completely off topic, but I know you are incredibly philanthropic. Tell me about your favorite charity.
LS: All three of us believe in giving back. You can’t take from the world without giving back—whether it’s giving time, creativity or money. I love what John does with God’s Love We Deliver. Could be the best concert of the year. And isn’t your pop-up gallery benefiting the New York Academy of Arts? So to answer your question, I have been working with Make-A-Wish for 26 years and support The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Katz’s Women’s Hospital mostly. Now it’s my turn to switch topics. If you were to use three words to describe me, what would they be?
JV: Kind, creative, unicorn. How would you describe us in three words?
LS: Virtuosos, bold and genuine. See, I believe you attract what you are. It’s like cake. All three of our cakes are the same underneath. We all don’t have the same icing because that would be boring. The icing is what attracts us to each other. Our cakes are that we have the same foundation, but I love both of your icing.
Photography by: Zev Starr-Tambor