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It’s Too Darn Hot: All Day Drag 2016

Live Events, Things to Look Forward To

I love the summer, I really do. But you know what I like about the scorching heat? That heat that makes you feel like you just opened the oven door after an afternoon of marathon baking?  Well, I like the option of stepping into nice, cool air conditioned facilities whenever I want. I’m not a brute. I’ll walk all the way up to five minutes in order to receive said cooled environment.

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SO when I heard that Pride Toronto was having an all-day drag event on July 2nd, 2016 to celebrate the festivities, I thought “Wow – what a great idea! I would love to see some of Rupaul’s Drag Race best contestants entertain me in their elaborate outfits and immaculate make up.” I said those words exactly. That was until I found out the event was going to be OUTDOORS. Yes, you read that right. No respite from the sure-to-be extreme heat that Toronto loves to throw up in the dead of summer.

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Enchanting “Grey Gardens” in Toronto

Best of 2016, Live Events, Rave!, Toronto Events

I had no idea what to expect when checking out the Acting Up Stage production of the stage musical version of the classic documentary “Grey Gardens”. Was it going to be a farce? Would it be a veritable humorous look at Edith Bouvier Beale, and her daughter, Edie, the two stars of 1976’s “Grey Gardens”? I just didn’t know. I did know there was a Broadway production of this musical retelling starring the incomparable Christine Ebersole, and I happened to catch her performance of the showstopper “The Revolutonary Costume for Today”, but that was the extent of my familiarity with the musical.

The documentary film, on the other hand, is vital part of my film canon of favorites. Revisiting the film every few years brings me a different perspective on the documentation of these two women with big dreams, big souls, and, most sadly of all, empty pockets. I just don’t think the world was ready for them. I think you’ll feel the same way too if you haven’t seen the film already.

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Back to last night’s spectacle on modern society and the plight of maniacal hope. The musical was breathtaking and refreshing. It not only didn’t poke fun at the situations that had befallen this mother/daughter duo, but it shed some light on a relationship that was at once both stifling yet interdependent beyond words. The two women were shadows of one another, not whole without the other. Little Edie, played ferociously by the amazing actress Lisa Horner of stage fame and success. It was a tour-de-force performance, and I was clearly not the only audience member riveted by every mannerism, every movement that Horner made on the stage. With eloquent stage production that was subtle but effective, “Grey Gardens” as a musical is a commentary on modern society’s insatiable need to build someone up and watch them fall.

You can read more about the show online at your own leisure because I can’t and don’t want to summarize this beautiful production for you. It’s intimate and claustrophobic, but also emotionally and mentally open. I really, really, really liked it. All my Torontonian readers, please, please go see it. It’s only here for a short time at the Berkeley Street Theatre (https://goo.gl/LkpnAM).

 

One of the many uniquely styled blazers available at Surmesur.

Effortlessly Cool: Profiling Men’s Clothing Shop Surmesur

Rave!

With The Gentlemen’s Expo fast approaching, the team here at Reading Other People thought it would be fun to highlight some of the local stylish, innovative purveyors of cool. The Quebec-born Surmesur instantly came to mind. After communicating with their social media team in Quebec, an in-store interview with one of the shop’s co-founders was arranged and Reading Other People was granted an in-depth, personalized visit to one of the coolest stores to grace Toronto streets in a very long time.

One of the many uniquely styled blazers available at Surmesur.

One of the many uniquely styled blazers available at Surmesur.

Falling within the Bespoke style of clothes making (the store name gives it away), Surmesur is so much more than a made to order enterprise. It’s a style experience without all of the typical pretense that usually accompanies visits to a tailor. Replacing the fakery of some of Toronto’s other Bespoke tailors, Surmesur’s practice of providing an open, honest, and comfortable shopping experience makes it one of Toronto’s best kept style secrets, but a secret it shall not remain for much longer.

Greeting us with the charm of a gentlemen and the savvy of a business owner, co-founder Francois Thériault took us throughout the store, from the extremely well-organized and minimalist street level to the labyrinthine, staff-only floors. While the availability of options to make that perfect suit or blazer was a tad overwhelming, Thériault and the other Surmesur  staff ensure that a visit to the store is so highly personalized that feeling distressed is quickly replaced with excitement of  customizing a jacket to one’s own style.

“The Toronto shopper is a bit more conservative than we’ve noticed in our other locations,” Thériault says as we sit upon the sofas in the lounge area used for larger wedding parties and corporate events whilst perusing the availability of suit options and fabrics. “Our Quebec City customer will focus on the details of a suit, and our Montreal shoppers are loud in their style choices. But in Toronto, we usually see a tendency to more solid colors.”

Some of the many available fabrics available.

Some of the many available fabrics available.

And this is what makes Surmesur so incessantly cool and refreshing. Whatever the customer likes, the customer can get, without judgement of any kind. While the highly trained and experience staff, replete with on-site tailors for those pesky last-minute hem jobs, will recommend what type of style or color might work best for you, it’s the customer’s final choice to order what they want. And that’s perfectly fine with Surmesur staff.

Francois at work.

Francois at work.

When asked what can best describe the must-haves for the formal wardrobe of an inexperienced or shy shopper, Thériault, without hesitation, mentions “blues and grays are the best choices to make. They’re timeless colours.” Showing us the myriad of blues and grays available, Theirault pointed out the various styles and shades that can be incorporated into any bespoke pieces, brilliantly demonstrating his vast knowledge of not only materials, but of style.

We were amazed at the prices that Surmesur charges for its services. Astonished, really. The wide selection of some 5000 fabrics allow men to personalize their shirt or suit at truly affordable prices. You can get a customized shirt starting at $55, and suit prices start at $375. And, to satisfy the most discerning customers, the folks at SurMesur carry recognized collections such as Dormeuil, Scabal, Holland & Sherry and Vitale Barberis. With a 4-6 week turnaround on ordered pieces, we at Reading Other People don’t know why any Toronto man would go anywhere else to order their next shirt and tie.

“We don’t really publicize the shop all that much,” Theirault continues as he shows us the multitude of orders pending pick up, a veritable rainbow of colors and patterns. “Word-of-mouth is spreading, and we feel that’s the best way to build our customer base. We want to make our shopper feel comfortable in our stores.” It is this penchant for a highly personalized, simple and fun experience that sets the ethos of Surmesur miles away from its closest competitors.

Glimpses into Tie-heaven.

Glimpses into Tie-heaven.

This ease of communication Theirault allowed our interview to be both organic and efficient. When speaking about how Surmesur was born from brothers Vincent and François Thériault from Québec City, the genuineness of the stores values are on clear display. Theriault’s obvious goal is to make the Surmesur shopper know what’s available, and with that knowledge, accessible by the various, highly cataloged booklets sorted by color,  acknowledges that finding that perfect suit can indeed be an arduous task.

“Surmesur can get you that cool suit for the kid going to his prom, and for the Bay Street banker who needs to go to yet another function”, says Thériault. “And we do it an affordable cost. We also take all of your measurements and keep it on record so upon your next visit, we’re not taking our the measuring tape.” Hallelujah for simplicity.

Coming soon is also an online tool for prospective shoppers to visualize how certain colors and patterns would look as a blazer or tie. Giving us a demo, it’s clear this will change the shoppers experience in many ways. Sometimes you just need to see that a paisley pattern won’t look good as a pair of pants, but great as a blazer’s lining. That’s the beauty of Surmesur – it’s got effortless style that incorporates the shopper as a person, with their own ideas and preferences, as opposed to an object who must be sold the most expensive pieces.

SMTies

Check out Surmesur’s booth @ The Gentlemen’s Expo September 25 to 27th at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto…and say hi to   Thériault who will be there at some point. We bet you will be able to spot his authenticity from across the venue.

Visit Surmesur online at http://www.surmesur.com