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Talking to Todd Lynn

The Canadian designer returns home to Toronto for celebratory dinners and an interview with Dazed Digital...

One night, the soft-spoken, hard-edged designer Todd Lynn was dining at the Canadian High Commission with fellow expats Mark Fast, Erdem, Jean-Pierre Braganza, and Thomas Wait. The very next day, as it happened, he flew home to Toronto for the first time in eight years--eight busy and rollicking years for the glam-rock tailor. Dazed caught up with Lynn at Holt Renfrew (where he was throwing a trunk show) to talk about loving Courtney, collaborating with ASOS, and dreaming of Pierre Cardin.

Dazed Digital: You're seen as a rock'n'roll designer, and we've just come out of a rock'n'roll phase in fashion. Will you keep doing what you're doing, or change with the mood?
Todd Lynn: I think people look at the wrong side of it. I don't sit there and go, I'm going to make a rock'n'roll collection. I just do what I do, trend or no trend... It's not as though the idea of rock and roll in fashion has ever gone away. So yeah, you get Balmain doing that type of trend. But the funny thing is, you [as an independent designer] still exist, and you can exist in a big way. None of us really change our style.

DD: You don't think personal style can change?
Todd Lynn: You might wear different labels, but if you look back, you've always liked the same things. Look at rock stars. A rock star's vision never changes. Courtney Love, for example. Even Madonna...
DD: Yes, the big names. You've dressed a lot of them, haven't you? Any favourites?
Todd Lynn: I love Courtney. She's kind of great. Shirley Manson, who I work with, I really really love. I've been very lucky. If I didn't like dressing someone, I don't talk about it.
DD: You've dressed pop stars too, like Rihanna.
Todd Lynn: Yeah we did some stuff for her. And Lady Gaga. We work with everybody.

DD: Stars like this - do they wear your designs because it's their style, or more as a stage costume?
Todd Lynn: I don't know. I don't love the idea that people need to use it as a reassurance. I like dressing celebrities because they can be free--some of them. Some of them not. And then it's part of the job. When I come across somebody I really identify with, like Shirley or Courtney, then that's different.

DD: Do you approach celebs, or do they approach you?
Todd Lynn: Oh no, I don't approach them. It's a bit cheap. They come to me.

DD: Ever said no?
Todd Lynn: Oh, yes, we've said no. [Laughs.]

DD: Whom do you have in mind when you're designing?
Todd Lynn: To be honest, I envision my friends who I'm around all the time. It's not so much the rock stars, it's the people who are married to rock stars. The wife and the girlfriend, to me, are the really interesting ones. They don't need to feel so uptight.
DD: But in the British press, the WAGs are sort of stars too, no?
Todd Lynn: Yeah, and the kids.

DD: Like the Geldofs.
Todd Lynn: The Geldofs? No no no, don't go there! Paul Weller's kids are really great.
DD: Do you actually sell to the stars, or is at all lent?
Todd Lynn: More and more, people realize they have to pay. They don't pay for big houses, like Gucci or something. They pay for people like me, because it's a new label. I can't afford to give things away.
DD: t's not easy being a young designer, we know, but London seems the best place for it.
Todd Lynn: Yeah, I like being in London. The infrastructure here is very supportive of young designers, and that's what helps. You've got high street retailers doing collaborations, and that's how designers survive.


What have you got on the go in that department?
Todd Lynn: I'm working on a menswear collaboration with ASOS right now, actually. I don't have all the details.... I do think it'll be priced about the same as the regular ASOS Man stuff. It's exciting for me, and it's profitable too.
DD: Congrats! And in the opposite direction, what about designing for a big fashion house? Do you dream of going that route?
Todd Lynn: Yes, of course. Everyone laughs but I would love to do Pierre Cardin. I think it would be amazing right now. What that brand stands for - the structure, the lines, the cut would be so valid right now. I think that label would be amazing.