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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