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: If you’ve got it, hide it

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: Covering up is sexier than stripping off, as inspired by the “salivating” reaction to the male models at the Ezra Constantine Spring 2011 show.

Call me old-fashioned but when I was working as a stylist the sexiest thing was what you weren’t seeing. I know—I’m out of touch. I should be more with it.

But you must understand that, as a former professional dancer, I’ve spent the majority of my life surrounded by semi-nude and wispy ballerinas and models. There is nothing that I know of that can kill the visual allure of someone than the string of curses heard during a quick change backstage.

In one show, I had six changes, three of which were back to back. That meant a sauté off the stage right into a unitard, slippers and mask, then stripping down and changing into a full-body flying harness, with tuxedo over that, all topped off with an Elvis wig. I was clipped in and flown straight up three stories, then lowered back down, stripped down again and wriggled back into the same unitard, slippers and mask. Did I mention that dancers perspire?

Needless to say, I sounded like a trucker and I had to buy drinks for our dresser after each show. I’ve worked on a few fashion shows, and it’s the same. Dancers or models—what you see is so not what you get.

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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: Flirts in skirts

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: Why men in skirts are totally hot. (See Marc Jacobs, above.)

OK, I swear this is the last one. Really, I promise. No more of this tangent I’ve been on. As a friend of mine recently wrote on Facebook: “After the mensire, the murse, now the mirt?” Yes, it’s time to drag out that ol’ chestnut, the male skirt. Why? Have you been in the city for the last month? The heat, ya lummox!

I’m going to strongly advocate that the skirt is the best male garment for three distinct reasons.

1. IMAGE. This summer’s heat reminds me of a wonderful commercial from the late ’70s or early ’80s for York Peppermint Patties. It starts with a POV of an opening elevator door, then zoom through the first two figures to the bored face of a young “office girl.” She lifts a York peppermint patty to her lips and slowly takes a bite. Cue the sound of breeze; her hair beings to billow. She says: “When I eat a York peppermint patty, I feel the cool wind blowing through the forest and racing up my legs and …” Pull away to the whole elevator, and we see the others edging away from her as she begins to reach an ecstatic moment of consuming. Gale force winds ensue and she is rapt in the refreshing coolness of the chocolate. Needless to say, her skirt is being blown out of control.

Now I realize that I’m completely crazy to have this image in my head but that’s what I picture when I think of donning a skirt. All my over-heatedness would magically disappear. (I live in a special place.)

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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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Cute boy, cute toque. TOMMY, the new, more affordable line from Tommy Hilfiger, previewed last night during a packed fashion show at the Gladstone. The brand is in the midst of all kinds of moving and shaking, and TOMMY seems certain to further up the ante. Look for it in stores this fall. Photograph by Marq Frerichs.


Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs (above), considers matters related to men’s style. This week: Toe polish for men. (Oh, yes.) Photograph by Giovanna Castiglione.

I had a wonderful moment yesterday.

Blissfully listening to my iPod on the subway, I felt a pair of eyes on me—you know the feeling. I thought, Oh boy, this is awkward. Did I cut someone off to get into the car; have I taken the seat before someone who obviously deserves it? Perhaps those eyes are busy thinking that my sartorial choices are off-kilter, or am I singing aloud without realizing it? I casually raised my gaze and locked eyes with a woman across the car. Her stare was full of worry.

Realizing that she had my attention, she slowly moved her eyes down my body. I followed her gaze. In lockstep, our eyes moved from my messy coif, past my vintage AllDayIDreamAboutSex jersey, with no pause at the shiny beads around my wrist. She didn’t flinch at my semi-opaque army pants (commando not an option). And so there we were, finally, staring at my feet.

I’ve got a thing about my feet. I looked up suddenly, knowing what the what-up was.

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SOME LOOKS WE LIKED: At Lingerie Française

A fashion presentation featuring France’s top lingerie brands—including Simone Pérèle, Princesse Tam-Tam and Chantelle—the Lingerie Française show was a fascinating glimpse into what lies beneath. Story and photography by Marq Frerichs.

Summer’s hottest show, both literally and on figure, was held Wednesday night at the Wychwood Barns Artscape. The Lingerie Française event is a bit of a dream for those who appreciate the female form, and the skill used to create the sweet nothings that cover it.

Ballerinas and chansons set the mood. Most interesting was the use of classic Chanel-inspired accessories, couture feathers, and rosettes. It’s not always what you see but what is hidden that has the most allure.

Click through for très jolie photos from the show.

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