One would never know to look at Mark Fast’s intricate, luxurious knitwear that it was produced on a humble domestic knitting machine. During his BA and MA at Central Saint Martins he developed a technique of blending lycra with various yarns that now gives his silhouettes a voracious, body hugging quality. He worked for Bora Aksu and Stuart Vevers at Loewe before launching his own brand in 2009 and has made headlines for using fuller-figured models in his catwalk shows. For spring/summer 2011 he has taken African adornments and the idea of utopia as references to create a collection of crystal-encrusted and tasseled mini dresses, bra tops and shorts that leave little to the imagination.
Mark, please describe your upbringing in Winnipeg, Canada?
Life was a dream. As a child I was raised in a very vast landscape and would fantasise about being characters in the film Willow. I was very sensitive and aware of my surroundings.
What first interested you in fashion?
Initially, I wanted to get into costume design but I fell in love knitwear because as a medium it allowed me to be in full control of the fabric. The first thing I ever made was a cashmere cardigan.
I also find my aspirations are enhanced by meeting all the interesting characters who live in such a diverse city.
What were the most valuable lessons you learned from your education at Central Saint Martins?
On the BA I found an energy in fashion and on the MA under professor Louise Wilson, I found a certainty.
How has your design philosophy or sensibility matured since your debut autumn/winter 2009 collection?
Every season is different and there are many challenges still to overcome. With each collection, my team and I find a new piece of knowledge to take with us to the next one. The possibilities with wool are endless.
Describe your spring/summer 2011 collection and the ideas behind its themes of ‘disintegration and restoration’?
I wanted to generate a feeling of hope in the face of destruction. I was thinking about oil slicks and acid rain and looked at alligator scales, exotic bird plumes and underwater environments. The collection creates a dichotomy between the severity of my knitted stitches and the unusual materials and objects I’ve combined with them. I used transparent knitted pieces and feather-like, shimmering knits to express a sense of fragility.
How would you sum up the Mark Fast look?
It is strong and fun! I’m inspired by texture and by African jewellery. My philosophy is never to cut and sew knitwear; instead everything is blended and sculpted. This allows for integral movement of the knitwear over the body.
Explain your fascination with a garment’s relationship to physique?
It’s all about the character and personality of the woman who wears my clothes. It’s the spirit of the person that excites me.
Who is the Mark Fast woman?
I dress women who are bored of the rest and need some electric voltage in their life.
What are your views on your Canadian contemporaries in London such as Todd Lynn and is there anything that ties your aesthetics or approaches together because of your shared heritage?
We always seem to find each other in the same circles. Todd is a great guy with tremendous enthusiasm for his craft. Our work is very different and that’s our charm but we’re both very much in tune with what is happening in our homeland. Canada’s steel manufacturing and Bison fur inspire me.
Why London as your base?
The intricacy of the architecture is awesome, I can get lost in the history of the buildings. I also find my aspirations are enhanced by meeting all the interesting characters who live in such a diverse city.
How vital is London Fashion Week in 2011?
London has some of the best fashion houses in the world. The British Fashion Council provides great financial and business backing for designers, such as the New Generation sponsorship scheme, which I’ve received.
You’ve worked with Bora Aksu, Stuart Vevers, Atelier Swarovski, Topshop, Danier, Woolmark, Pinko and Christian Louboutin – what did you gain from these collaborations?
Each collaboration has supported my work and enabled me to have strong collections. Meeting mentors and finding new ways of working with different materials has taught me to be free with my creativity.
What is your definition of style?
Comfort of identity.
What are your ambitions and dreams?
At the moment I am having a great time innovating my luxury basics line Faster by Mark Fast. In the future I want to direct a film and make the costumes for it.