By Katia Ostapets
Photography by Kareen Mallon
On January 12, Christopher Bates, a premier Canadian fashion designer specializing in menswear, screened his first-ever short film in Toronto.
The sans-dialogue film, called Desperado and with a run-time of approximately five minutes, tells a story of a man, whose girlfriend breaks up with him at the beginning of the film. In their parting embrace, she kisses the collar of his shirt. The lead character is heart-broken and distraught, so he goes on a walk-about to reflect on what happened. When he notices the kiss mark in the window reflection, he tears off his shirt and eventually decides to burn it. Another girl, who is driving around in the night looking for something, sees the burning shirt and is drawn to it. Shirtless, he gets into her car and together they drive into the night. Sexy and ominous, the film is beautifully shot and perfectly paired with hard electronic music in the background.
What is the background of the story? “It came to me in a dream,” said Bates. As soon as he dreamt the film, he immediately wrote it down on a pad he keeps by his bed, and eventually shot that exact vision. The designer said that the story was not based on him or any true events, but on a persona that is central to his eponymous brand. “He’s a rogue vagabond character. He’s had his heart broken and now he’s breaking hearts too,” said Bates.
Bates’ brand now features a line of men’s dress shirts, including the one featured in the movie which is gray with thin white pin stripes and a white collar, with the infamous bright red lipstick kiss on it. The design had become so popular that women are ordering the shirt too, shared Bates. Curiously, they still want women’s lips on the shirt. “Men’s lips are just not as sexy,” he explains.
The film screening was held at the exclusive private members club – The Spoke Club. The club’s elegant lounge and private movie room served as a superb backdrop for Bates’ showcase. The party had a casual atmosphere with no agenda or timeline, and allowed guests to eat, drink and mingle.
In attendance was jewelry designer Emily Woudenberg, Spellbound hair salon director Carlos, up-and-coming Trip-hop singer Shaemara and a number of Bates’ high school friends.
Bates was charismatic as ever, and made time for each and every guest. One of them commented, “I really loved the film! His shirt and style really tell a story. It’s an expression of who he is. He’s giving us Desperado in a shirt. How does one do that? I loved it!”