John Varvatos Does His Best Simon Cowell Impersonation

Designer John Varvatos is stealing a page from American Idol creator Simon Fuller‘s playbook, announcing the launch of his own “Free The Noise” battle of the bands contest to be broadcast on the Spin magazine Web site

The fashionable 50-something self-professed “music junkie”—whose past ad campaigns have featured rockers Perry Farrell and Scott Weiland—will join a group of “special guest judges” in weeding out the most talented performers from a pool of up-and-coming, unsigned bands who upload a video performance of original music to the site.

“Music is the heart and soul of this brand,” Mr. Varvatos said in a statement. “Hosting this contest on the internet allows bands from all four corners of the globe to participate.”

In September, finalists will be flown to New York City to perform live at Mr. Varvatos’ barely one-year-old boutique at 315 Bowery, the hallowed site of the defunct CBGB rock club, during Fashion Week.

In an interview with The Observer last April, Mr. Varvatos discussed the controversy surrounding his decision to open a fancy retail shop in the legendary club space—the grand opening attracted a bevy of anti-gentrification protesters—and his intention to funnel store profits into an “artist development fund” that would bankroll monthly live music performances there.

“There’s something pretty cool about that,” the designer said at the time. John Varvatos Does His Best Simon Cowell Impersonation