Over the phone from New York, Mark Fast is witty and warm — he betrays no hint of nerves, although, as he lets slip at the end of our conversation, he’s meeting Anna Wintour later that afternoon. The
Vogue editrix is a star-maker; she can shoot budding designers into the stratosphere. But one could argue that Fast is doing just fine on his own. Since 2003, the Winnipeg native has lived in London, where he attended Central Saint Martins and now shows his chic, sexy knitwear at London Fashion Week. Last year, he collaborated with Christian Louboutin on a line of footwear (think knitted panels with Swarovski crystals on python leather), and this spring, Faster by Mark Fast, his collection of luxury basics, is available at Holt Renfrew across Canada.
How did you become interested in fashion?
“I lived outside of Winnipeg, and I had no friends [laughs]. Seriously. I was an imaginative kid, I loved the movies and, for a while, I wanted to be a magician. When I was around 12, I started watching
Fashion File and
Fashion Television. There was something about seeing what came down the runway — it was new every time; each show created a different world.”
What were the highlights of your Central Saint Martins ex- perience?
“My friend Bora Aksu dressed Tori Amos for her tour, so I got a glimpse of the ‘behind the scenes.’ For my M.A., I was taught by Louise Wilson, a fashion icon in London. She gave me the best advice: ‘Why not stick to something that you’re happy with? If you want to make tight knitted dresses for the rest of your life, why not?’”
Which knitwear designers do you admire? What do you find inspiring about knitwear?
Jean Paul Gaultier has the best
knitwear, even in the ’80s. He was so ahead of his time with his holey mesh cardigans and his sheer layering over chiffons. I also love the way hosiery is made — I apply that to my work. Each line and hole is done separately — right to left, all by hand. When you change the tension, you change the look: A looser tension creates something more voluminous. The possibilities are endless.”
How did your collaboration with Christian Louboutin come about?
“My PR rep knows him, so I just approached him. He appreci- ates my work; we’re both artists, so it was a very easy, fun process. It’s funny: To me, becoming well known is about working with people you’ve always wanted to work with. For spring, [Christian] made my shoes and I knitted panels to put on the leather. We’re working together for fall as well.”
What inspired your spring/summer 2010 show?
“I found this book on 1920s silent films and created a storyline around it. The sets were very Egyptian, with big costumes and lots of texture. I pictured a woman leaving her kingdom to find her long-lost love. I also thought about Erin Brockovich — a woman who has a family, who has style, who has attitude. Basically, it was about the attitude of a real woman.”
Your runway show fea- tured three plus-size models. Why was that important to you?
“I fell in love with their characters; I knew that they would suit my clothes. My customers have curves — why not express it on the catwalk?”
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.