There is an inexplicable mystique enveloping the one that got away — in some instances, almost bittersweet. In the case ofMark Fast, the story of longing began with a hop across the ocean, landing in Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, where Fast studied fashion before going on to become a successful designer in London. The halo of success Fast is encircled by today means only two degrees of separation between Our Home and Native Land and Rihanna.
Adding to this mystique is (in order of significance) his recognition for intricate knitwear designs, controversial plus-sized models wearing his clingy creations, and celebrity controversy. In regards to the latter, Fast once denied Lady Gaga a dress for fear of being steamrolled by her fame.
“It just didn’t seem right at the time,” he explains, keenly identifying the business side of running a fashion house.
Fast hit the London scene only a few years ago with his statement mini knit dresses, and the steady and honourable rise to recognition has paid off. These creations have now become his signature, although also inviting scepticism of his staying power as a designer, suggesting he’s a one trick pony. Still, his most recent catwalk show added variations on the previously monochrome pieces, offering feathered hems and an introduction to a brighter palette.
Fast explains there is an evolution to his collections, building on what has already been so successful among A-list starlets. Sticking to what he knows best, knits, what Fast accomplishes with each piece is extracting a feminine sexiness to a traditional process of construction.
“[Each piece takes] months of thinking and experimenting,” he explains of the intricately patterned dresses. A setback that is less apparent in other forms of fashion creations is how long it actually takes to have one piece come together. “The difficulty is the time involved to create a piece; thousands of rows of knit equal thousands of arm movements.”
Now at the helm of the British fashion industry, Fast recently earned himself the honour of working with curvy French beauty Julia Restoin Roitfeld, daughter of Editor-in-Chief of French Vogue Carine Roitfeld.
“We had been back and forth with outfits to dress her for various events. I love her style and grace,” Fast explains of what initially drew him to the collaboration for the latest collection of his diffusion line,Faster. “This is the type of woman I love to dress.”
In the role of creative consultant, Roitfeld will offer advice and input on the image of Faster including image concept, the choice of model, and photographer. A peek at the collection’s colour scheme is enough to see the hand the stylish Parisian has already played in the conception of Faster — the collection’s signature plum colour has Roitfeld written all over it.
Along with this and creating his namesake line, which debuts each season at London Fashion Week, Fast is involved in a collaboration with Italian fashion house Pinko. The pair will be coming up with a capsule ready-to-wear collection for AW11.
Working out of London’s east end, Fast describes his office as a new Andy Warhol factory: “We are all very original and ambitious; artists with knitwear knowledge.” The ‘factory,’ which he said he found by chance, is located on Shacklewell Lane in Dalston, an emerging hub for London-based designers, also housing designers Christopher Kane, Peter Jensen, and Marios Schwab, as well as the newly-opened Late Night Chameleon Cafe concept boutique.
Fast recently posted on his personal twitter account the following: “After your dreams come true, what then?” When asked about the post he responded, “That’s something I ask all the time. I used to dream about a life as a fashion designer and I am now living my dream. Fashion is about finding your way and finding the light at the end of the tunnel, but it will never be reached on this earth.”
Behind this enigmatic fashion luminary is a guy who still returns to his home of Winnipeg when he can. In the past he’s hinted at the possibility of incorporating his Canadian heritage into his work, but for the most part the Great North is a retreat from the hustle and bustle of a life in London.
So Canadians fret not, though there may be a rather large pond between Mark Fast and our national fashion industry, the one that got away still returns home every now and then with warm sentiment in his heart. “My next trip is planned at Christmas,” Fast shares. “It will be fantastic! It is my only place for rest and relaxation.”