John Varvatos’ Dark Rebel Rider Rides into Town


There’s a new Rebel making some noise. Following the debut of his Spring/Summer 2017 collection during the John Varvatos fashion show, he rode up to the John Varvatos Bowery Store to exhibit his darkest fragrance yet, Dark Rebel Rider (DRR), culminating Men’s New York Fashion Week.

DRR is a deeper iteration of the original Dark Rebel released last year. Varvatos’ youth in Detroit and his city’s ascent from its economic dark ages to gradual renascence kindled the gothic fragrance; it symbolizes individualism, courage, and rebellion incarnated by the biker mythology and Varvatos’ shared identity with rock music.


To sound off the event, Varvatos invited Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown, a roots-infused rock band from the South with wicked talent soon to be on “repeat” hogging playlists everywhere. Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Mills made a cameo as well.

Through the cackle of camera shutters and light grenades, the rebel-rouser himself spared me a few questions:

In what way is DRR expressing the original Dark Rebel differently?

It’s freedom. You’re on the bike, going where you want. It’s pushing the walls out. If I was going to do a new fragrance, I really wanted to do something badass. It’s different than anything we’ve ever done. When I thought off Dark Rebel Rider, he does what he wants. Goes where he wants. He’s the ultimate rebel.

Dark Rebel was a dramatic shift from your other fragrances. With DRR, do you intend on making a series of these scents? Regardless, will these darker fragrances serve as a platform for other unrelated scents?

No, I’m not doing another one. I don’t have ‘the trilogy’ planned. But they’re all part of our Artisan group of handmade fragrances. I mean look at the bottle. You almost want it on your counter.

Your youth in Detroit and the city’s rebirth were your inspiration for creating Dark Rebel. Is this a further expression?

It’s all connected to my roots and my brand, which is all about being a rebel and shaking shit up. That’s my motto in life: ‘shake shit up.’ Don’t stand still.


And Varvatos hasn’t with his continued partnership with Givaudan Vice President of Perfumery, Rodrigo Flores-Roux. Givaudan is a legacy Swiss manufacturer of flavors, fragrances and active cosmetic ingredients. Founded as a perfumery company in 1895 in Zurich with strands dating back to 1796, its now the world’s largest company in the industry.

The best way to describe DDR’s presence is mythical. The Dark Rebel brand of alchemy is exotic, deep, earthy, leathery, and smoky; DRR, however, doesn’t have the tobacco leaf twang found in the original Dark Rebel. DRR’s architecture, however, was crafted around Russian leather chosen for its unique tanning process that uses birch oil. Wearing DRR is like being in a medieval den deep in the woods at night in some gothic fantasy—leather armor hangs everywhere, a small fire crackles, frankincense smokes, as cedarwood and resin waft through the window.

It certainly conjures some imagination with wild abandon from the get-go. Top notes incorporate bitter orange and citron concocted with the spicy and floral notes of saffron, marjoram, and hyssop. The heart of darkness is made with black violet enriched with rockrose resin, Somalian frankincense, Sumatran bark resin, and Tolu balsam. Russian leather resides in the earthy base with cocoa bean absolute, vanilla extract, atlas cedarwood, patchouli, and tarred madras wood.

As for the touted bottle, it’s either biker-bad or “Fifty Shades of Grey” — you pick. Topped with a dynastic, black fleur-de-lis cap, it’s nonetheless, an utterly sensual fragrance completing your ride through the night.

Exclusively available at Bloomingdales,, and other fine retailers.

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