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Irish designer Cormac Todd on his London Fashion Week debut

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Sínann Fetherston sits down with musician and junior fashion designer Cormac Todd to discuss London Fashion Week, forging a creative career abroad, and the importance of mentorship.

“I’ve always been interested in fashion – in a passive way,” Cormac Todd tells me, speaking from his family home in Dundalk via Zoom.

The London-based junior designer is enjoying a quick trip to Ireland following his debut show with Vidi Blak at London Fashion Week.

Under the creative direction of Aneta Quelch, the sustainably minded fashion brand delivered a series of eye-catching designs (think vegan leather ponchos, tailored midnight butterflies, and organza flowers) to the rain-soaked streets of Soho.

Photo Credit: Simran Kaur

The models looked effortlessly chic, scattered around the small venue like living statues, before coming to life and marching their high-end wares through Bateman Street for a dramatic finale.

Although the designs themselves have no clear ties to Ireland (there was neither a Claddagh print nor an Aran knit to be found), the show featured some special touches from home if you knew where to look, including a variety of music from Irish performers throughout the night.

Music, says Todd, has always been essential to his creativity.

“It’s been quite an unconventional journey,” he laughs. “I’m a musician first, and that’s what I moved to London for three years ago, but I had been working with stylists and styling my friends with other designers if they had a concert or an event.”

Photo Credit: o.zdv

Having performed at London Fashion Week last year, and having made a number of contacts within the fashion industry, Todd was invited for a photoshoot in the Vidi Blak studio for an editorial.

It was there that he met the brand’s founder, Aneta Quelch, who he immediately clicked with.

“I always wanted to learn how to properly design – I thought it was something I would do in 10 years – but she offered to train me. For the last year she has been mentoring me, and she’s been in the industry for 30 years, so I just feel very grateful and very lucky that someone wanted to invest time into teaching me the business and developing the pieces.”

Reflecting on the importance of mentorship, particularly in creative fields, the designer says he hopes to continue the practice in his own career.

“I’m a big believer in paying it forward,” he says. “It’s always good to support the next generation that comes up after you.”

“My journey from music to fashion has been unconventional and enriching, largely due to the mentorship and opportunity provided by Aneta. As I continue to learn and grow within this industry, I hope to pay forward the kindness and knowledge. “

Photo Credit: Simran Kaur

Culminating in the LFW show, Todd says that the last year has been a series of learning curves and creative exploration – all of which he owes to Quelch’s training.

“I was quite stressed when I started pattern cutting,” he laughs, “because the material is so expensive and very high quality.”

“All the pieces we do are very much historical, classic cuts but with a modern twist,” he adds, describing the ethos of the brand as one of sustainable luxury.

“In luxury fashion, it’s very common for fashion houses to over-order and over-develop fabrics, which often end up in landfill,” he explains. “Once a collection is done, these big houses move on. That’s where we come in. We source these fabrics that have been over-produced and utilise them for our own collections.”

Photo Credit: Simran Kaur

As well as offering bespoke alterations, Todd hopes to offer noteworthy pieces that will be embraced by “people who are contributing to culture” and those with a true love for fashion.

From asymmetric skirts and high-waisted trousers, to mesh tops and draped dresses, each piece from Vidi Blak’s collection seems to have an eye-catching detail that allows the wearer to stand out from the crowd.

“The designs and creative direction that have captivated audiences, including those showcased at London Fashion Week, are the result of Aneta’s dedication, creativity, and leadership,” says Todd. “Her approach to combining classic cuts with modern twists and her commitment to sustainability are what truly set Vidi Blak apart.”

“It’s challenging to market a primarily black and white brand,” he notes. “This particular collection was a collaboration with me, which is why there is colour, but Vidi Blak is typically a monochromatic brand.

“When you have a minimal palette, you really have to be maximal when it comes to the textures and the cuts.”

Photo Credit: o.zdv

Based in London, Todd says he has become “very entrenched” within the Irish community and has found a lot of support while living abroad.

“The London fashion community is super inclusive. It’s not what I expected, honestly. A few years ago, I only had The Devil Wears Prada as my reference, but it’s not like that at all,” he insists, laughing.

“People are very collaborative and have great attitudes,” he adds. “Irish people have such a community-based culture, so I think everybody can have a seat at the table and everybody can get where they want to go. I’ve found that in both music and fashion.”

Looking ahead, Todd says his dream celebrity to dress is Irish country singer CMAT: “She always causes such a stir in the best way”.

Photo Credit: o.zdv

In terms of his own musical endeavours, 2024 is set to be a big year for Cormac, who has kicked off the year with a brand partnership with live speaker company LD Systems, and has an upcoming collaboration with Swedish EDM producer Amberlind.

His next live gig is set to take place at The Victoria London Dalston on April 16, with Gotobeat Promotions, with plans for an Irish gig to be confirmed this Summer.

Despite his on-going accomplishments, though, the musician was quick to note that “overnight success” rarely exists, and that anyone hoping to pursue a creative career needs to brace themselves.

“I started this when I was 24 and everything has only started to move now,” the 29-year-old reflects. “That’s how long it takes, honestly. As an artist, you need to know the business, you need to know contracts.”

Photo Credit: o.zdv

“You have to turn up and be cordial to everyone,” he adds. “If someone takes a chance on you, turn up with slightly more than they ask for. Always leave a good impression on everyone you meet.

“And support your community – it’s going to be so boring if you’re on your own in this.”

Visit cormactodd.com for more details.

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