Monday, 12 July 2010

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Harder, Better, FASTer, Stronger..

To quote Daft Punk, nobody does it harder, better, faster or stronger than Canadian born knitwear designer Mark Fast. His Topshop-sponsored SS10 catwalk show caused quite the media uproar when "gasp" he chose to use some models that were larger than the "Size Zero" high fashion industry standard but smaller than the average UK woman who is statistically a Size 16. The media debate over model sizes has ebbed and flowed in the public consciousness, reviling the thin and amply curved with equal venom throughout the years. Twiggy was nicknamed "The Twig" in the 60's due to her gamine frame and elfin beauty and Penelope Tree was as tall and willowy as her name suggested, while Jean Shrimpton was nicknamed "The Shrimp".

Later, Kate Moss sparked an uproar against "Heroin Chic" when she appeared naked and waif-like in the adverts for Calvin Klein's Obsession fragrance. Later, Jodie Kidd became the focus of media hate stories, her super-svelte frame making her the toast of the catwalk but feature-fodder to journalists. There's no doubt the media love to hate thin models - but occasionally the curvy girls become targets too. When Sophie Dahl's rubenesque curves sashayed down the runway in Irish knitwear designer Lainey Keogh's AW97 show, she caused a media storm. The incident probably wouldn't have happened if the late stylist Isabella Blow hadn't put Dahl on the fashion radar.

By the same token, it was Mark Fast himself who caused the commotion at his own SS10 show, with his stylist walking out over his decision to include some curvy models in the line up. The media and online forums were awash with comments - both positive and negative. I have to agree with the late Andy Warhol when it comes to all the media commentating on Fast's involvement in the Size Zero debate, "don't pay attention to what they write about you, just measure it in inches". The truth of the matter is that Fast's signature Body Con aesthetic and prowess at sculpting the silhouette with peek-a-boo panels is what makes his garments desirable to both women and fashion buyers. It's also the reason his clothes are likely to endure far longer than the media circus that surrounded his SS10 show. Fast credited the silent movies of the 1920's as an inspiration for his SS10 show, with "severity in stitches creating a cinematic effect over the body". American hero Erin Brockovich also came into the mix, with Fast channelling a little bit of her "attitude".

Hot on the heels of his diffusion line, Faster by Mark Fast, he has launched Mark Fast for Topshop, a mini-collection of five gorgeous pieces, inspired by sleek exotic birds, the shimmer of their wings and the movement of their feathers as they fly. Prices start at £80 for a hip-hugging dark grey knitted skirt, peaking at £180 for the piece-de-resistance, a black knitted dress featuring intricate panels, heavily embellished with matte rubberised beads. Though it's evident Fast has a knack for turning out strong "Power Dresses", his on-trend pale pink one shoulder dress proves that soft and sensual are also within his repertoire. The collection is available to purchase online, so hurry to the Topshop website to invest in a piece of history. After all, my instinct tells me that Fast is likely to be a highly collectable knitwear designer. I'd go as far as saying that he will be as important to his generation as Herve Leger was to the 80's.

Mark Fast Beaded Dress - £180
Mark Fast Vest Dress - £95
Mark Fast Panel Skirt - £80
Mark Fast Long Sleeve Dress - £150
Mark Fast One Sleeve Dress - £150

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