THE IT: Operanation VII, tomorrow night!

Tomorrow night is Operanation VII, Cinderella: Rock the Ball. Buy your tickets now!

Story by Marq Frerichs.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of bringing something new/different/cool to the eyes and ears of little ones, you’ll understand what I mean about seeing the lights go on—ping, click, pop, bells and whistles, crack and fireworks going off. Bringing the performing arts to kids is one of those unsung parts of working as a performing artist. Truth is, we complain about school shows just ‘cause everybody likes to complain, just a little. But the truth is that they’re wonderful experiences for both the artist and children.

You may be asking yourself: Why are you telling me this?

Because tomorrow night is Operanation VII, the Canadian Opera Company‘s hotly anticipated gala event, which is raising money for the COC’s children’s outreach programs. And with Monday’s election outcome, the arts and, more importantly, the arts and education of our future citizens have never been more pressing.

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SOME LOOKS WE LIKED: At Nada, Joeffer, and Dmitri-Chris

A look from Nada, Spring 2011. Story and photography by Marq Frerichs.

The Brickworks were all a-buzz last Thursday night at the Art of Progression fashion show, presented by Audi. The designers? Nada, Joeffer Caoc, and Dmitri-Chris—all important names in Toronto fashion, and examples of an interesting (and undeniable) shift of the fashion scene away from the official action at LG Fashion Week.
Here are some of our favourite looks from the show.

THE BOULEVARDIER: Cloaked in art at Nuit Blanche

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: What to wear to Nuit Blanche. Hint: Take a cue from Ann Demeulemeester (left) and John Galliano.

White Night—the words alone conjure up a myriad of images. I’m transported to Paris, to St. Petersburg’s street theatre, to Rio de Janeiro, watching the waterfalls of fireworks on New Years Eve. It brings to mind ideas of beauty, worldliness, and art. At Nuit Blanche, our town, Hogtown, really shows off its place as a centre of arts and culture in the world.

We’re not provincial; we’re not a wannabe New York. I’ll say it: We’re on the cutting edge, avant-garde, if you will. A good friend of mine, an art curator, is flying back from Europe just for the night. Now, I’m not qualified to tell you which installations/pieces/works/events/happenings you should see—there is a website for that. In fact, don’t bother, just get outside and roam!

The question then becomes what to wear.

Guaranteed, the weather will be inclement: Rain, the threat of rain, wind, the threat of wind, muddy, with a distinct chance of chill in the air. (I pray I’m wrong.) In keeping with fashion’s current trend towards Edwardian-Victorian-Prussian-military-neo-retro-post-pre-punk meets Clockwork Orange, I’m thinking that the cape or cloak is the way to go.

I would say that the best-designed example of this sartorial flourish comes from right here at home.

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THE BOULEVARDIER: Pillow season

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: Suiting up for pillow season. Above: Yohji Yamamoto’s Y3 for Adidas.

Yup, it’s true: Summer is officially over. It was a beautiful final weekend, TIFF is done, many of us are back in school, and sweaters are back. There are such possibilities for daily wardrobe changes or pulling out your “on sale” purchases from late last winter. It’s not still summer, yet it’s not quite fall. It is, however, a very particular season.

I’m not sure if we have a name for this time in Toronto, but they sure do in Montreal. When I was living there, I noticed a very interesting relationship pattern: ‘Round about now in the calendar, men and women would start actively coupling up; come the end of March, men and women would start actively breaking up. Ah, les Quebecoises, always setting the trends. Ever inquisitive, I asked a friend what was up. She leaned close and whispered, “It’s the winter pillow search.”

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TIFF SPECIAL: Inside the madness with Debra Goldblatt

Debra Goldblatt, the founder of Rock-it Promotions, one of the top PR firms in the city with a major TIFF presence. Story and photography by Marq Frerichs.

Perhaps you checked your Twitter feed, glanced at a newspaper, or walked through Yorkville in the last few days? Yes, you’re right—there is something happening in this here town. It’s TIFF madness. Madness, I tell you!

Or, as Debra Goldblatt would say: It’s all logistics. Say it with me: Logistics.

When I sat down with Deb, the founder of Rock-it promotions, last Wednesday, she was cool, calm, and rather serene—in fact, the very model of a modern major general. The Rock-it promotions office in the Burroughes Building was quiet, with two banks of computers, a central conference table, and Deb’s office on the Queen Street side. There was an easy energy in the room, with four members of the team on-site and the rest out in the world, paving the ways and means.

The only hint that they might be overtired? The bowls of candy on the table.

Two things were different with Deb right off the bat. One, she gave me a real kiss, not the air kind. Two, she offered me water. Wonderful, because no one really needs a caffeine boost in this hopped-up business. I sat in her office with her while she fielded a few calls, negotiating meet-and-greets in five-minute increments. “You can have 10:50 to 10:55.” Whoa!

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THE BOULEVARDIER: Let’s go to the ‘burbs

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: Live from the Ex!

So here it is: Your get-out-of-jail style card. With this, you have the unquestionable right not to care about what you wear, do, or eat. This is not a “dressing down” card, nor is it a “slumming it” pass—it’s a go-to-your-closet-close-your-eyes-yank-out-whatevs-your-hand-touches-and-put-it-on kinda thing. Everything I’ve mentioned, prodded, cajoled, hinted-at in this column: FORGET ABOUT IT. “Let’s Go To The Ex, oh, baby!”

It’s been awhile since I’ve experienced the pleasure of the Canadian National Exhibition. In fact, I hardly recognized it. I did, however, recognize the distinct look of its patrons. Lots of sugar-glazed eyes; the giddy, slightly seasick gait. The Greeks had a name for over-indulgence and he manifests himself here. Sugar, sunshine, adrenaline-pumping rides, gambling and lots of scantily clad youths.

You’ll see him strutting through the midway from a mile away.

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THE BOULEVARDIER: Can you smell that?

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: Bleu de Chanel, the new men’s fragrance from the design house (and the commercial, shot by Martin Scorsese) inspire a reverie of love, menace and missed chances.

The white light has a blue cast, the highway is shiny from the thunderstorm. You see the headlights grow in the distance—white streaks illuminating the wet steel of the rails, with flashes of lightning in the distance. The curve of the track, the screech of metal, wheels grinding along. Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” plays in the distance, the sound rolling forward, louder and louder, jets of vapour bursting upwards from the unseen manhole covers. Somewhere down the line, the brakeman has flipped a switch. The great metal snake shudders.

THE BOULEVARDIER: Dare you

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: Having fun with fashion (like Mr. Tom Wolfe, above) in a ghost town.

Toronto empties out come August: We have no world leaders to block our streets, no rainbow-waving bears to hug, or bejewelled Mas bands to follow. Every week, by Thursday at 11 a.m., the fashionable set have left town. The first string (so the Hogtown hierarchy goes) has migrated north to Lake Joe, the Muskokas, the Kawarthas and Honey Harbour.

So, what should one be seen wearing at the cottage? Unless you’re wearing a buckskin-beaded jacket  à la Pierre Trudeau, I don’t really care. You’re not here, so I don’t have to see you wearing that Tilley hat, those floral Bermudas and ‘dem Crocs. By the way, a stubby isn’t an accessory. Really, you’re most likely not even close to roughing it. Once I stayed at a cottage where the boathouse had more rooms than a Parkdale tenement.

And thus we—the royal “we” that is—have the city to ourselves.

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THE BOULEVARDIER: See you, see me

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: The iPhone 4 and what it means for male vanity.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for years and years. And it’s finally arrived and, to my surprise, no one else seems to have grasped the significance. How is it that Marshall McLuhan or Faith Popcorn didn’t predict this moment in social connectivity and future fashion?

C’mon people, what was so important that happened last Friday? Friday the 30th? Fine. Drum roll please…

We entered the AGE OF THE JETSONS.

I remember an episode of the Jetsons where one of the women calls her friend via video phone early in the morning. She hits the button, then screams. We see the screen: The friend is beyond disheveled, with smeared makeup and matted hair. Realizing that she isn’t put together, the friend darkens the monitor, grabs a perfect latex mask of herself and pulls it on.With a click of a button, the screen comes back to life and she’s perfectly coiffed and made-up.

If you’re as image-conscious as I’ll admit to being, my iPhone 4 has changed everything—again. (To quote Apple.) As you might imagine, I came to Skype late in the game. Not everyone has a machine with video, but now I have the technology right in my hand. Does the phrase “What will I wear?” come to mind?

Better yet: Who will I be?

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THE BOULEVARDIER: The Vuittons

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: The rise of a (sort of) new aesthetic for Toronto gents.

The corner of St. Joseph and St. Nicholas streets is not what it once was. Circa 1983, it was the nexus of Toronto’s alternative cultures. At one in the morning, Katrina’s, a super chic gay club, was packed with hot pant/mesh topped disco boys and drag queens. A line was forming to get upstairs to the Voodoo Lounge: mods, all suited and booted, glam-punks (not the punks of Kensington market), and the New Romantics. Across the alley was Club Zee, full of early hip-hop style and B-boys.

And then there were the Channels.

This clique brought the style level of the after-hours way up. Kings and queens of the five fingered discount—they must have been the bane of Holt Renfrew. The look? All designer, all the time. Shoulder pads, stir-up pants, Beatle boots or shabooties. A crisp white shirt with a pencil tie and clip, or perhaps a black lace bow. There were shoulder pads on the double-breasted suit, jackets always had two gold buttons—and did I mention the shoulder pads?

The Channels wore the subtlest of makeup: a little white face and eyeliner under their Wayfarer or Jackie O shades. I always thought they were the epitome of Grace Jones style. They carried a small box for a clutch, and pearls—a single strand on the neck or wrapped around the wrist. These boys worked the fine line of masculinity, lived in androgyny.

The androgynous male has a rich history, from St. Sebastian to Tony Curtis in Spartacus to early David Bowie. I’m convinced model Agyness Deyn stole my look, from when I was in my school uniform.

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