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Rock 'n' roll tailor
Courtney Love, U2, The Rolling Stones: the list of stars styled by fashion designer Todd Lynn reads like a Who’s Who of rock music royalty. Mark C O'Flaherty speaks to the London-based Canadian about his fashion plans and predictions for 2011.

London-based Canadian-born Todd Lynn has been carving himself a wildly successful fashion niche in the grand tradition of stadiumscale rock and roll tailors.

Just as Antony Price dressed Bryan Ferry, Grace Jones mused for Issey Miyake and Stephen Sprouse engineered the visual essence of Debbie Harry and Blondie, Lynn’s designs have become synonymous with a very individual and authentic kind of contemporary rock star.

His dark and edgy collections are a favourite of Courtney Love; he’s created bespoke outfits for The Rolling Stones and PJ Harvey; and he continues to be under contract to U2 to create the bulk of their tour wardrobe. At his February show in London Janet Jackson sat in the front row with Marc Almond and tweeted rapturous praise for his work.

When he began working as a fashion student in Toronto in the late ’90s, leather was his first tailoring textile of choice, both out of necessity (“you just couldn’t get good fabric in Canada,” he says) and for its connotations.

His early influences were the sci-fi imagery of HR Giger and the dark musical underground of The Cramps and The Sisters of Mercy.

Lynn’s career was kick-started in 1996 when his friend, the celebrated music video director Floria Sigismondi, commissioned him to create outfits to be worn by Marilyn Manson in the promo clip for the single ‘Beautiful People’.

Two years later he moved from Toronto to London to study at Saint Martins, and then went on to assist red carpet womenswear wizard Roland Mouret. Lynn launched his own label with a spring/summer 2007 London Fashion Week show that was a paradigm of his ‘rock star chic’ aesthetic: black, white and grey tailoring defined by cut-throat sharp lines,

Mark C O'Flaherty: What’s happening with the Todd Lynn label this season?

Todd Lynn: For this summer’s collection, Tin Hinan, I have an expanded range of product, with a specific focus on menswear. There has been such a demand from the men’s side of the collection from all sectors – stores, customers, press and celebrities. The foundation of the collection started in menswear, which has always been a crucial part. It remains the starting point, and acts as a kind of explanation, for the womenswear. In my first show there were 21 outfits, but only six were actually women’s. However, I had to do womenswear because there are no men’s shows in London. Over the seasons the demand for the womenswear has been overwhelming, but now it’s time for me to really give some concentration to the label’s roots.

Of course, the quality remains the same. With the kind of limited production I do there’s inevitably a high price point, but at the same time I think modern

luxury isn’t about what you can afford, but about exclusivity. There’s a lot of buzz around the trainer boot that I showed for the autumn La Chasse collection and which I worked on with Louboutin. A limited number are going into Harvey Nichols for the new season.

MF: How do you feel about design right now; what do you think defines this summer’s aesthetic?

pinched-in waists and elegantly flared wrist silhouettes, all with a touch of dandy and a soupçon of goth. Since the 2007 show his label has continued to grow, but with a meticulous eye on near-couture quality rather than on diffusion and mass market appeal. His work is produced in incredibly small editions, with many pieces numbered (one of five, one of 25 etc) and most of it produced in the finest fabrics and with flawless attention to detail at his factory in France.

TL: There can’t be a looking back to the past. It’s all about forward thinking: modern grungy-goth shoe gazers in something bright! I think that we need some fantasy in our wardrobes. With the recession, everyone is getting bored with the whole doom and gloom thing. From now on I think it’s going to be all about styling yourself up. There’ll be a bit of ‘customisation’, but a little less ‘home craft’ and a lot more customised styling. New ideas are emerging on the street and creativity is overflowing into the gutters of those same streets. So pay close attention to what’s walkin’ past!

MF: What’s your style for this season?

TL: I’d call it modern grunge - something slick with something tattered. It’s about layering and the disguising of glamour.

So many people with wealth are choosing to disguise their spending patterns, whether that’s by shopping online or dressing less flashy in the street. My work always revolves around a ‘dress up with the tattered’ aesthetic and it’s something that works with the economics of today. It’s a style adjustment that fits the new attitude.

MF: What excites you?

TL: I’m so excited that we are fully into the new millennium. I love starting things with a clean slate, kinda like New Year’s Day; it’s a bit like what confession must be like, starting afresh. And this is the start of a whole decade. I could barely contain myself at the start of the new millennium.

MF: Outside of your field, who do you think will be big this summer?

TL: The Dead Weather. They may have released their second album and they are all independently very successful already, but as a musical project in its own right this is definitely gaining momentum. Super groups are great!

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