Christopher Bates has a cultivated eye, as evidenced by his great passions: film, music, gourmet food and, of course, impeccably tailored menswear.
Trained in Milan at the legendary Istituto Marangoni, the Vancouver-born designer has based his rapidly expanding business out of Toronto for more than three years.
Last year at Toronto's World Mastercard Fashion Week, Christopher’s yachting-inspired, laissez-faire looks earned rave reviews, but the designer promises things will take a dark and sultry turn on the catwalks this season.
Your spring collection was inspired by the 'nautical lifestyle.' What inspired Fall/Winter 2014?
This season was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s famous literary character Dorian Gray – he was my muse. The collection is called Noctum, which is Latin for “night,” so there is a strong eveningwear component to it.
Do you have a favourite piece?
I did leather pants for the first time and they turned out really well. They’re all-black and fitted. They're a mix of lamb leather and perforated lamb leather and they have a motocross aesthetic – they’re definitely hot.
I also did a tuxedo. It’s a navy with black thread and wool with satin trim. I think it’s one of the strongest outfits I’ve ever done – It pops. It’s totally red-carpet ready.
Your line was picked up by Holt Renfrew recently. How amazing did it feel when you got the news?
That was the biggest breakthrough of my career, so it was a hugely rewarding and happy moment. We’re doing a launch in Vancouver on April 3, and that’s where I’m from, so I’m really excited.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t a fashion designer?
It would be something creative. I’m a man who follows his passions. Aside from fashion, my greatest passions are film, music and cooking. I’d either be making films (which is something I do anyway) or music (which I don’t actually do, but I’d like to) or maybe I’d have a cooking show.
What kind of music would you be making?
Electronic music — I really like Daft Punk, their earlier stuff. Something like that.
And what kind of food would you make?
Gourmet – not from a specific country, but I like to push the envelope with technique and presentation. I was actually on the show Come Dine With Me Canada, and I won, so that was fun. I like to participate rather than watch – I haven’t had a television or a couch since 2006!
What does dressing for success mean to you and why is it so important?
When you put on a well-tailored suit or a strong outfit, doors open for you and people take you more seriously — they treat you differently. When you’re really well dressed, you can go anywhere and do anything. It’s an important aspect of life. It will further your career and your social life as well.
What’s the biggest fashion mistake you see men making?
Ill-fitting clothes in general. Specifically, baggy pants – even straight-legged pants can look silly if they’re pooling at the hem. Then they look ridiculous and you end up looking like a clown.
What should a guy wear on a first date?
Dark, fitted jeans with a tailored sports jacket and a new, white dress shirt. It’s approachable and it’s not too serious, but it’s stylish. And I think nothing looks better on a guy than a clean, white dress shirt.
You've often said that the 'Christopher Bates' man aspires to be like James Bond. Which James Bond actor would you most like to see wearing your designs?
That’s easy: Sean Connery by a mile. Second would be Timothy Dalton. I’ve actually read all of the Bond books and he portrayed the character most closely to what was written in the books.
Which male celebrity would you most like to dress?
It has to be someone who is stylish and who I really like. One of my favourite actors is Christian Bale. He’s such a handsome guy and he will literally wear all black – black suit, dress shirt and tie. It can look good, but he’s got to spice it up a bit!
In five years, you see yourself headquartered in Europe. Which European city do you see yourself in?
Stockholm. It’s an emerging fashion capital and lots of brands are headquartered out of there. I also just like the lifestyle and the people – I feel like it’s a Euro-Canada when I’m there. The aesthetic is also very clean, minimal and restrained, which I appreciate.
Shop the Christopher Bates collection at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver, and GotStyle menswear and The Coop Ink in Toronto.