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Take a Look Inside John Varvatos’ Passport

The designer shares his favorite places to visit for inspiration

by Eden Herbstman

May 8, 2023

John Varvatos / Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris Getty Images

Fashion designer John Varvatos has an eye for style, an ear for music, and a taste for tequila—passions that keep him traveling. Since launching Villa One tequila with Nick Jonas, he continues to discover hidden gems near its distillery in Jalisco, while London’s street fashion is his biggest style influence. “I take tons of pictures of people on the street. It gets your wheels spinning about the future.” His preferred cocktail: “I like a skinny spicy margarita—not sweet, but not tart—with a little jalapeño and salt on the rim.” Here, his stylish spots.


Cliff Bell’s at Shinola Hotel, Detroit / Photo: Courtesy of Nicole Franzen

“I grew up there and saw the city go through so many changes. I’ve been staying at the Shinola Hotel—it’s very mid-century. The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the best museums in the world. They have one of the biggest collections, with more in storage, so they’re able to constantly rotate pieces. And Cliff Bell’s is one of my favorite bars. I’ve been going since I was in college. Every night they had someone cool playing, like John Lee Hooker or someone from Motown or jazz. It’s been refurbished so it looks like the original, and remains one of the coolest places for jazz.”


The Underworld in Camden / Photo: Wenn Rights LTD/Alamy Stock Photo

“Every time I go I look online to see who’s playing at the theaters and clubs. I went to The Underworld in Camden to see Måneskin. Everyone was sweaty and dancing. I was definitely one of the older people there, but I loved every second of it. I also went to Ronnie Scott’s to see jazz with my wife. I love seeking everything from the small clubs to big theaters. London is the most stylish city in the world to me. That’s something we miss here, elegance on a daily basis—London has that. You see it in the tailoring, or the bars that have formal dress codes. There’s something special about that old-world sensibility. But then I go to places like The Underworld, and it’s a completely different group of people and styles.”


The Paris Flea Market / Photo: Brian Jannsen/Alamy Stock Photo

“I never get tired of Paris. It’s the most beautiful city in the world. I’m a vintage furniture nut and the markets there are the best in the world. I see stuff that makes me want to open a furniture store. The Paris Flea Market has hundreds of shops—it’s all about exploring and digging for discoveries. I’ve used so many pieces from Paris in my stores and homes over the years. For my wife and me, Paris is the special place.”

Jalisco, Mexico

Jalisco, Mexico / Photo: Stoli/Villa One

“It’s a beautiful countryside—the way the light hits the farmland during the day is special. We’re the only brand that sources, and has farms, in both the Highlands and Lowlands. The Highland region has sweeter agaves, which we mix with earthier ones from the Lowlands. Guadalajara is close by: There I discovered the boutique hotel Villa Ganz—it’s authentic Mexican down to the furniture. La Tequila Cocina de México has great food, and I couldn’t tell the number of tequilas they have. The bar is massive. It’s fun talking to the waiters and bartenders about the tequilas.”