MARK FAST: A Feminist Phoenix from the Ashes



Julia Ferrar reviews the knit-meister Mark Fast’s latest collection shown at London Fashion Week AW17. 

Photo by Sarah Orr
Photo by Sarah Orr

When one reads the phrase ‘knit-meister who knit the hell out of lycra’, what may spring to mind when waiting for the start of the show – or maybe just my mind, perhaps – is a confusing hybrid of grandmother-meets-discotheque circa 1982. Yet the creations of the ‘knit-meister’ in question, Mark Fast, could not be further from this confusing aforementioned hybrid. Any designer that can count the inimitably-chic Tilda Swinton and Rihanna among his clientele is someone to pay attention to and, as his celestial models began to glide down the marbled runway of Freemason’s Hall, you quickly understood why he was worth sitting up for.

The London-based designer and Central Saint Martins Graduate twice over (following his BA with an MA in 2008) continues to knit all his artistically-sculptural creations by hand on domestic knitting machines, innovatively blending lycra into its most luxe reincarnation yet and this show, after his brief hiatus, was no exception.

In his poetic synopsis of his return to the runway, Fast described a collection “from the deepest caves, up from the graves, bringing her soul into the light. The heartbeat of the dragon she did fight. Fire, coal, disintegration. A moment of love is her resurrection.” This feathered phoenix-like resurrection unfolded into a tactile tale of femininity and feminism and as he once again ear-marks female empowerment as his design inspiration and aspiration, one couldn’t help but fittingly preface the show with the Chimimanda-quoting T-shirts of Chiuri’s Dior debut.

The collection showcased the true breadth of his ability – wherein orange could be tastefully paired with purple (a feat that’s rarely, if ever, been attempted so stylishly), and bright crocheted mini-dresses with glinting jewelled embellishments could be followed so seamlessly by elegant nude gowns encased in a floor-length fluid cascade of glimmering threads. These woven orange embers gave way to pale blue plumes of feathered gowns, and striking black swathes of fabric blended into delicate clouds of pastel tones, glittering sequins and cascading threads that proved at once both beautifully ethereal and temptingly boomerang-friendly.

In his beautifully bold return, Fast artfully reinforced the very current and prevalent dialogue that femininity and feminism are far from mutually exclusive – whilst, somehow, simultaneously leaving those present questioning how they’d survived thus far without the cloud-like softness of his flared orange jumpsuit in their lives and wardrobes.

About Julia Ferrar
After studying literature at UCL, Julia spent an all-too-fleeting few months savouring the je ne sais quoi of Paris before returning to London where she now works with MATCHESFASHION.COM and indulges her propensities for Virginia Woolf, Jacquemus and the colour navy.