A self-described “dreamer” and “theater kid,” Jordan Roth’s manner is reflective and understated when speaking particularly modest about his credentials and accomplishments. After studying theatre at Princeton University, he went on to receive an MBA from Columbia Business School, while becoming the majority owner and president of Jujamcyn Theaters—a collective of five primary Broadway venues—all by the young age of 33. The experience of theater was a key part of Roth’s upbringing—his mother, Darryl, is an award-winning Broadway producer and his father, Steven, is a major real estate developer. In his own right, Jordan has worked diligently, and often intuitively to carve his path and build a reputation within the industry. By far the youngest theater owner on Broadway, he produced his first show at the age of 25, and in the years since, he has come to count four Tony’s, among many awards.
Above his love of aesthetics, Roth’s worldview is focused squarely on purpose and philanthropy. An avid supporter of LGBTQ rights, marriage equality, and AIDS awareness, he created Givenik to allow theatergoers to contribute towards the cause of their choice. Next week Roth joins Father of the House of Xtravaganza Jose Xtravaganza, Anna Wintour, and other fashion contemporaries and ballroom icons to judge Battle of the Legends: Vogueing at The Met. This fun-spirited competition celebrates the importance of Pride month with flair and ferocity, tying in with The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibition, Camp: Notes on Fashion. CR speaks with Roth about how art connects our lives with others, the deeper meaning of fashion, and why pushing boundaries wholly realizes one’s greatest potential.
Theater and fashion are significant arenas for your creativity. In what ways do you see them as parallel art forms?
“I think both begin with ideas about the world seen through a rigorous artistic vision, which is sent out into the world to live on other people. A playwright or director is very much akin to a fashion designer, watching someone else breathe life into their vision. They are co-travelers in that way. For me, personally, both art forms offer very meaningful ways of expressing who and why I am. I am deeply impacted by what I wear—fashion offers all of us a daily opportunity to explore who we are and how we want to feel. It is absolutely an expression inside out, but it is also an expression outside in.”
You describe yourself on social media as being “here to inspire through art and fashion, just as they’ve inspired me.” How is fashion an influential mode of expression and connection?
“On an immediate level, fashion can provide a moment of conversation, an opportunity for human connection. It can feel so difficult these days to find another person’s eyes—to talk, engage, and have a door to one another. That connection can be in real life or online. I have been profoundly moved by the number of people who have shared that watching me be me has helped them be more of themselves. And if we can inspire one another in that way, that’s why we’re here. Beauty has depth, beauty is beautiful because it comes from a place of meaning. One of the big misunderstandings of camp—yes, it is fabulous and over-the-top, decadent and eye-catching—but that is just the surface of a great depth of meaning, history, and story—whether the person knows it or not.”
Iris van Herpen designed your opulent look for the Met Gala this year, an ode to camp’s extravagance. Tell us about the piece and its performative emphasis.
“As soon as I knew that camp was the theme of the Gala, I knew I wanted to explore the performance aspects of camp and create a look that was both about performance and a performance in itself. And I knew that the look, like camp, should unfold its layers of meaning as you dig deeper into it. Iris and I started with the concept of the proscenium and curtains as a frame. So much theater vocabulary is built within the frame—it says look here, this box requires your focus and attention. Applied to real life, anything that we frame in that way, you elevate to a level of importance that says this is worthy of your attention. So much of camp is about performance in heightened life, and so much of performance as expression is present in all life, as both an expression and affirmation of who we are.”
You are known for taking chances in your approaches to both business and style. Why is it important to push your personal boundaries wholly?
“One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver, who has a poem called ‘Instructions for Living a Life’ that reads, ‘Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.’ I find great joy and power in these ideas. They speak to how I feel about myself and how I experience the world when I am at my best, especially the idea of being astonished. A sense of curiosity without prejudging where it is going to take you has served me well. It is an easy mistake to rob ourselves of potential in advance of experiencing something by predetermining that we won’t connect to it. One of the best things I can do is to come to new experiences with openness—my heart open and my eyes open—to what is being offered. The expectation of narrative clarity, of how something will make sense in our lives, is only useful in retrospect; it is not a useful prescription in life.”
For all your love of aesthetics, activism is a large part of your life’s work. How does the upcoming vogueing competition at The Met represent the spirit of the Camp exhibition, as well as the broader message of Pride month?
“I found the exhibition exhilarating on so many levels, but perhaps most importantly how Andrew [Bolton], Anna [Wintour], and The Costume Institute have elevated camp and the LGBTQ community by celebrating, exploring, and unpacking it in one of the most storied cultural institutions in the world. They have shown that this community, this aesthetic, this worldview is worthy of scholarship and belongs in the highest temples of art. It is legitimizing and empowering, and extraordinarily moving.”
Battle of the Legends: Vogueing at The Met will take place at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on June 11, 2019.
prev link: https://www.crfashionbook.com/mens/a27803036/the-art-of-performance-and-style/
createdAt:Fri, 07 Jun 2019 00:58:11 +0000
displayType:Long Form Article