A man with the belief that love is the most powerful force in the universe and with the ability to design men’s clothing accordingly is certainly worth listening to. So, when Toronto-based menswear designer Christopher Bates said, “Love is my core inspiration and a central theme for my brand. Not just romantic love, but love for life,” it was impossible not to take note.

“I think of myself as an evolution, never changing, but always evolving. [I’m] fluid. I’m constantly refining my taste and aesthetic. Things that appeal to or stimulate my aesthetic inspire me and become a part of me.” Bates is surely an inspired person—to say the least. His belief in his own greatness is an overarching component of his budding success. Since ditching Vancouver’s marketing industry in 2006 and rerouting his life with the help of Milan’s Instituto Marangoni, he’s launched an ever-growing menswear line that he most recently showed on the runway during World MasterCard Fashion Week.

Aptly entitled Dressed to Kill, Bates’ spring 2013 collection is a stab at the hearts of men and women aching for a heartthrob in a well-tailored suit. During its showing on the runway, one model even handed a lush red rose to a blushing front-row spectator. [Swoon.] Complete with French cuffs, appliqué trims, colour-blocking, exposed zippers, screen-printing, and embroidery, the collection was created to make a bold statement—which is much like the designer.

If you ask Bates, he will ensure you that both himself and his theatrical collection are fit for a modern day hero. “I was inspired by the heroes and villains of classic 1960’s James Bond films. I’ve maintained my signature contemporary tailored silhouette designed to flatter slim to athletic type builds. I also produce a relaxed fit and offer custom service to accommodate a broad range of clientele. My pieces are lightweight and comfortable for optimum mobility and speed. [They’re] designed for living fast.”

His contemporary clothes have proven to be desirable to men and attractive to women because they’re undeniably sexy, with the right touch of the unordinary. The sexiness in his clothing comes from his translation of love’s warm and dangerous juxtaposition. “Love is a lust for life. It is pure energy and joy. It is light. But there can be no light without dark. I’m drawn to passion that is wild and out of control. But there has to be balance, which I reflect in my designs. I’m on the edge of wisdom and oblivion.” (…And of class and sass.)

More technically, he sticks to a refined colour-palette and spices it up with injections of boldness. Bates professes that his, “Fabrics must be interesting to look at and enjoyable to touch. Construction is critical to ensure a well-made and durable garment. Finally, where I really distinguish my line is with clever details.” He’s even made a seductive signature of a red-lipstick-kissed collar.

According to the Canadian fashion scene, Bates’ sex-sells mentality and hyper-belief in himself seem to be working. He placed as one of eight finalists and was the only menswear designer in this season’s Mercedez-Benz StartUp Program. Even though Montreal’s Duy took home the grand prize, Fashion Television’s Jeanne Beker cooed that Bates, along with designers Caitlin Power and Malorie Urbanovitch, is part of the future of Canadian fashion. If Beker’s eye for talent is any indication, we should all hop on the Bates bandwagon while there are still open seats—and male models handing out roses.

— Lauren Chan


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Ewa Bili

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