Man Repeller at Holt Renfrew: The best nuggets from our live Q&A with the blogger turned writer in Toronto

Randi Bergman Man Repeller Toronto
Photography by Jenna Marie Wakani
Randi Bergman Man Repeller Toronto
Photography by Jenna Marie Wakani

Earlier this month, Leandra Medine aka. The Man Repeller was at Holt Renfrew in Toronto to promote the release of her first book, Man Repeller: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls. In typically self-deprecating form, Medine charts the story of her life’s course thusfar alongside several fashion items, including the Canadian tuxedo she helped transform from early ought disaster a la Justin and Britney to the height of fashion. The items, set up as life lessons (harem pants = the way to suss out if a guy loves you for you, Bermuda shorts = how to sort out your body issues) prove why fashion isn’t just simply a fact of life, but life itself, at least for fashion freaks like us.

Before an intimate dinner at Rose and Sons, Medine sat for a live Q&A at Holts hosted by yours truly. We both sat in director’s chairs amidst racks of Helmut Lang and 3.1 Phillip Lim. There were many cute gals in attendance. It was a thrill.

Here are some of the best quips from our interview:

On man repelling, without literally man repelling…

“I think what’s so interesting or maybe paradoxical about Man Repeller is that it is very much a testament to female liberation and yet even the title is driven by this sex that we’re trying to shun. Well, we’re not trying to shun men.”

“Man Repeller is much more about women feeling confident so the point isn’t really for you repel men, the point is to be comfortable with yourself. I had to love myself enough to find someone else.”

On deciding to write a book…

“Ultimately it wasn’t such a decision to air out dirty laundry or to tell all or some sort of a confessional, I just feel like my way of connecting with people is by sharing personal anecdotes so they appeared in much longer form. Blog posts are what, 500 to 1000 words whereas a book chapter is 5000 words; my ultimate point was for girls to feel like if they have stories that they want to share they should share them. Don’t be silenced by the pen.”

On high-low dressing. Is it still possible?

“Yes, I actually feel much more nostalgic for high-low now because I’m capable of doing both whereas before it was low-low. The highs were from my mother’s closet or my grandmother’s spoils, so that was it. I’ll think back to the stories like in The Harem Pants where I’m trying to figure out whether or not I can buy this blazer from Zara because it’s $59 and I only have $80 and if I buy the blazer then I have $20 and I can’t go for dinner that night and that’s really annoying because it’s Thursday night and I want to go for dinner because I’m single and I want a social life and I’m in college and all this stuff is happening. I’m nostalgic about those days and I think of them now, I guess old times always feel like good times. There is luxury in the choice to wear one or the other. I’m almost always wearing something that is affordable. My shirt tonight is from Asos, the jeans are from Asos too and just the shoes are the one with the red soles.”

On the Canadian tuxedo…

“I sort of want to credit street style for making that happen, it’s actually so easy to get denim wrong. If you’re playing with a pair of Rag & Bone jeans and an Acne shirt it’s kinda hard to screw that up and it’s also like a uniform that you can style whichever way you want, a blazer over it, a utility jacket over it, wear a couple of necklaces, sneakers and heels. It’s such an easy palette to work with.”

On a potential next book…

“It might be called ‘Do you know where I didn’t get engaged? Paris!”

On going from blog to book…

“I think the difference with having a blog and a book is the difference between building a farmhouse and any enormous building like the one I’m in right now. It’s so different I can’t even calculate because you go from short form to long form, stories have to be standalone as opposed to directly pertaining to Kanye West all the time. I guess that’s it, I don’t know.”

On men’s style…

I’ve been taking a lot of style cues from the men’s models on the J.Crew site. No, I’m not kidding. I’m highly inspired by men, lately.

The interesting thing that’s happened recently…

Tonight a man came up to me and very seriously said, “Excuse me, is this where the Man Repeller event is? I just don’t want to be late “