Tuesday, March 10, 2015


By Lynda Castonguay

Christopher Bates FW 2015

Designer Christopher Bates (Photo by Shayne Gray)

Vancouver born. Italy trained. Toronto experienced. Milan destined. En bref, this is the story of one of our beloved Canadian talents.

In November 2014, Toronto based menswear designer Christopher Bates returned to his academic roots transplanting his design headquarters to Milan. His last and largest stint there was some eight years ago when he trained at the renowned Instituto Marangoni

The Italian man is, simply put, simple in his beauty. Italians have always looked to the quality of their fabric and their techniques to achieve this undemanding handsomeness they are known for. So, when your design ethos matches this school of style, moving to the country that is arguably the world’s fashion capital, for menswear at least, is inevitable.

Never forgetting his fashion upbringing, Christopher returned to Toronto to take part in the second Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOM*). His fall winter 2015 collection, Modular Man, is his first fully designed and produced in Italy And as we saw, Canada’s colder months are about to get a whole lot more cool.

Christopher Bates FW 2015 (Photo by Shayne Gray)

Inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, a beacon of ideal male proportion, Christopher focused, as he most usually does, on complimenting the male frame with structured elegance and classic silhouettes but with a present-day feel.

It was a clean and refined collection in a palette of mature hues. The burgundy brought out a sense of romanticism. The sapphire and midnight blues elicited an understated Daniel Craig cool. The greys are universally flattering for fall winter and the beige and khaki conveyed an earthy, approachable message about the collection. 

Christopher Bates left his men exposed, not how Rick Owens did in his fall winter presentation, however, but with exposed zippers on jacket fronts, pockets and pant flies. Bomber, gilet and field jackets were quilted and perfectly fitted to male proportion. Pants came in various shades and textures - camel suede and black leather, with chinos in burgundy, blue and formal wear in grey and white stripes.

Christopher Bates (Photo by Shayne Gray)

His knits were what he was most excited about: shawl collared sweaters with temple pockets, pseudo turtlenecks with a chain link weave, contrast yokes and cross body lines.

His collections are always unapologetically without bells and whistles. His designs are self assured contemporary with subtle forwardness. But there was something noticeably different that night. And it had to do with that little catch phrase he now proudly displays under his mark, “Designed and Produced in Italy”.

Bringing his business to the epicenter of fabric production and in direct contact with legendary and heritage mills has surfaced a new Christopher Bates: more resolute and more faithful to his aesthetic. It was palpable. It was in the clothes. The pace. The music. The air. This was Christopher Bates coming full circle.

Leonardo Da Vinci explained that the Vitruvian Man has a “shifting centre of magnitude without a corresponding change of centre of gravity”. An ocean parts us but no matter where his studio moves to, there will never be a corresponding change of his centre. Hand to chest, motioning his sincerity, Christopher told me his heart will always be in Canada. We are his centre of gravity.

Christopher Bates FW 2015 (Photos by Shayne Gray)

Christopher Bates FW 2015 (Photos by Shayne Gray)

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