Todd Lynn Spring/Summer 2014: on raising the wild boys and deconstructing the rock chicks

If there was one example of sartorial output that one would hitherto use to describe the creative essence of Canadian-born and London-based fashion designer Todd Lynn’s work was his Autumn/Winter 2011 collection. Anchored by a succession of elegant garments made of leather and heavy, textured fabrics that draped across the body to create simultaneously futuristic and glamorous silhouettes, Lynn’s Autumn/Winter 2011 range of men’s and women’s clothes embodied a seductive rebellious spirit of rock’n’roll that made his designs covetable worldwide.

On a first reading, the setting and the ambiance chosen for Lynn’s Spring/Summer 2014 fashion show (the dingy and dark basement of a bar in London’s Covent Garden with a live performance by rock band Wolf Alice, a far cry from the institutional white runway spaces in Somerset House reserved for London Fashion Week’s main shows) suggested that this was going to be another collection that would embody the designer’s customary daring sartorial spirit and view of the woman who wears his clothes as a confident and sensual ‘rock chick’.

However, Lynn’s latest range of women’s wear (titled ‘Wild Boys’ after William Burroughs’s 1971 novel whose plot narrates the actions of a homosexual youth movement hell-bent on the downfall of western civilization) could not have depicted a stronger intention to move away from the insubordination of youth subcultures in a process that questioned the status of the outsider and the insider quite literally through the treatment of fabrics and shapes.

Although the collection comprised a plethora of Lynn’s characteristic leather shorts, fitted pants and biker jackets and gilets, it also featured garments that challenged the conventional notions of elegance and tailoring in a whimsical way. Lynn described these pieces as examples of ‘undoing’ the object in a method that he related to the deconstructionist theories of Jacques Derrida and Alison Gill. To illustrate this approach, the collection included jackets whose collars were removed to show raw edges, sleeves that were conspicuously frayed, hem lines that were purposefully inverted, dresses that questioned symmetry by opposing high front collars with backless lines, delicate macramé tops with unexpected snake patterns, and sinuous silks printed with green and cream stripes normally used in the patterns of suit linings as a more direct reference to the intention of ‘undoing’ objects by turning them inside out.

Despite the inclusion of these new tropes in Lynn’s sartorial lexicon, I left the show wishing for a deeper insight into the designer’s intriguing new ‘undoing’ and feeling that a more thorough narrative could have been engendered had deconstructionist principles from thinkers other than Derrida and Gill been considered. For example, an understanding of Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytical theories of construction and deconstruction of the ego that result from the awareness of the self reflected in a mirror would have certainly enriched the collection’s underpinning concept. In other words, by deconstructing even further the image of the rock chick as a young girl that looks in the mirror and decides to play grown-up lady, the collection would have allowed a glimpse of Lynn’s own philosophical questioning of the social roles that fashion can allow by interpreting garments as constructs of status. And as the girls grow up and the boys become less wild, I have no doubt that Todd Lynn will be able to write even more captivating narratives.