THE CANADIAN IN LONDON
It’s only rock & roll, but Todd Lynn likes it. He grew up on a diet of 1980s MTV and has styled artists including Mick Jagger, Bono, Mark Almond and Courtney Love. His love of European fashion and British bands drew him to London, where he completed the MA at Central Saint Martins and worked with Roland Mouret before going solo in 2006. He’s now known for his stern, razor sharp designs. For spring/summer 2011, he reinterprets the story of Creation with biker jackets, cigarette pants and draped dresses all embellished with reptilian, metallic and suede skins.
Todd, please describe your upbringing in Otowa, Canada?
It’s a small town so as a teenager I felt quite isolated. My salvation was music. At the time anything British was cool. I loved Adam and the Ants. And for me music and fashion were always intertwined.
What first interested you in fashion?
I went to a high school for the performing arts and originally wanted to be an actor but started exploring set and costume design. I moved to Toronto, where friends worked on music videos and one thing led to another. At first I styled local artists but my big break was making costumes for Marilyn Manson just as he was becoming famous.
What were the most valuable lessons you learned from your education at Central Saint Martins?
That knowledge is power. St Martins was a journey of self-discovery for me. Getting through it was a struggle but the benefits are obvious. I also met Roland Mouret, who was lecturing at the college, and went on to work for him for seven years.
How has your design philosophy or sensibility matured since your debut spring/summer 2007 collection?
My first collection was small and mostly menswear. It seemed to create a bit of hype so I carried on. Now my collections concentrate on womenswear but I’m starting to expand my menswear line. To this day, I design and make clothes that I would wear myself. For me, that’s crucial.
Describe your spring/summer 2011 collection and the ideas behind its theme of ‘genesis redux’?
I explored the possibilities of creating artificial life in labs and the sad reality that the great things that come from science ultimately lead to evil. Like in Frankenstein, be careful what you wish for. I used lots of snakeskin and mixed rich textures and materials together to reflect these new creatures who are half one thing and half another.
How would you sum up the Todd Lynn look?
My background is dressing rock stars but that image has crept into everyone’s wardrobe now. People want to look effortless, cool and a little bit androgynous. I never want to make a woman look like a man, or vice versa. It’s a fine line but I like that balance. I’m not doing red carpet eveningwear either, my clothes fit into your everyday life.
Explain your fascination with dressing rock stars.
As a way of working, it’s semi couture. You’re making pieces that exist for one purpose and therefore you don’t have to think about price or production. But at the same time, artists have their own style and needs so you have to fulfill those criteria too. It’s exciting. For U2’s 2001 Elevation tour I made these jackets with American flag linings that became quite iconic for them. I’m also proud of the white leather suit PJ Harvey wore in her This Is Love video.
Who is the Todd Lynn woman?
She’s a musician, or the girlfriend of a musician. That’s the basis on my clientele.
What are your views on your Canadian contemporaries in London such as Mark Fast and is there anything that ties your aesthetics or approaches together because of your shared heritage?
Suddenly there’s all these Canadians working in fashion in London, it’s great but it’s not a conspiracy! The fashion education in Canada is very technical while here it’s arts-based so we’ve had the best of both worlds. Probably our lines are really clean because of where we come from. The great thing about London though is that we’re allowed our own outlook so we’re not vying for the same customer. I think the way Mark has invented these unique knitwear techniques is incredible.
What do you miss about Canada?
Sheepskin slippers – I get them sent to me every year.
Why London as your base?
I’ve always wanted to come to London because of its cultural heritage. I love walking along the river and the fact that there is such access to art galleries – my favourite is the Haunch of Venison. And for fashion, London is hot right now.
How vital is London Fashion Week in 2011?
LFW seems to be gaining speed at it’s new location in Somerset House and unlike other fashion capitals where you’re up against brands with a lot of money, here there’s space to break the rules.
You’ve worked with Linda Farrow, Christian Louboutin, Sean Leane, Chivas Regal – what did you gain from these collaborations?
Sean is such a genius, I feel very fortunate that he does my show jewellery. And I have to pinch myself that I work with someone like Christian Louboutin who I admired before I moved to London. When you put a show together, it’s these external elements that become crucial and polish your collection.
What is your definition of style?
Confidence is everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $10 t-shirt or a $3,000 dress, if you love something so much that it makes you feel special when you put it on, you’ll look amazing.
What are your ambitions and dreams?
I want to start doing bigger collections and pre-collections, and I’m also working on a small jewelry project with ASOS.