(images via style)
i’m not going to lie. although i have come to appreciate mark fast’s skeleton claw-like tenuous strings of knitwear and requisite above-the-crotchline hems (hey, it would make a nice top for most of us), i was first drawn to the quiet young canadian designer thanks to the assortment of body types he regularly cast to walk his runway (see a/w 2010, s/s 2011, a/w 2011). thus, i was crestfallen—to put it mildly—to see basically one type strutting down his s/s 2012 catwalk. okay, maybe two: thin and thinner. maybe there were a couple of girls who could have passed for ‘plus size’ in today’s ever-whittling-away industry, but there was nothing to speak of, that someone wouldn’t have found if not looking for it.
and don’t get me wrong. of course i’m still going to be fair to the clothes, and we’ll depart in a moment for more intense scrutiny on that front. but if homegirl below is your best example on ‘curvy’, i have that desolate feeling of a child in a schoolyard with the looong lunchbreak stretching out before, at the moment of realization that their only friend is absent. i know alyona osmanova, a one-time ‘sample size’ (and former marc jacobs, mcqueen, vuitton, and dolce & gabbana) model, who has, in the last year, gone ‘plus’, is still working the catwalk. i think we would all have loved it had he given her a call. but instead we’ve got the lady in the orange & yellow dress (with the orange armbands) possessed of a skinniness that just goes to a different level. but okay, point enough, let’s to the clothes.
“Dance, craft and the Batakari,” was how he described his spring inspirations to lfw, while the wsj described the range as emitting a “(d)esert warrior” feeling. “Into the desert she moves, / Onwards with faith, / And something to prove, / To live, to love, is all she desires,” they quoted the show notes as saying, also opining that “(t)hese dresses may require a slip (or two), but like one black number whose voluminous skirt bounced in rhythm with the model’s gait, the knits showed Mr. Fast’s ability to expand his range. A few non-knitwear pieces were even added to the collection,” before cautioning that “(h)oley, long, fishtail dresses and heels do not mix.”
“Mark Fast looked to the desert for spring,” said elle, “kicking of his with a clutch of crochet dresses in nude and gold, and progressing through to tropical pink, yellow and orange. Naturally the focus was on the knits and Mark’s signature figure hugging frocks were much in evidence form the floor length and plunging to the mini and sheer. There were, though, some more relaxed shapes for those less keen to have everything on show; an off the shoulder T-shirt shaped dress covered with metallic fringing a simple floor length jersey dress, albeit sheer enough to see the crochet underwear that it covered, and a chunky beaded and fringed shift in hot pink. But it was actually the knit free pieces that stood out – a printed pink dress with moulded sleeves, a printed pencil skirt and sporty cropped bomber and a mini skirt and cropped top.”
and wwd wrote that the designer “took a more refined approach this season and channeled Thirties glamour. Evening gowns fit for a screen goddess came in cream-colored loose weaves while gold flapper dresses had tassel fringe. The designer continued to speak to his hard-core fans with plenty of thigh-skimming minidresses in his spring lineup. But he still needs to work on the wearability of some of his pieces as some added unnecessary (and certainly unwanted) bulk.” however, the fashion spot was more successfully taken in, commenting that “Fast didn’t just stick with his steadfast tight and revealing knits but expanded into crochets and fisherman’s knits that added to the overall aesthetic change.”
and vogue, too, was suitably impressed: “‘The palette originates from sand tones in a desert landscape, then moves into gold fringing. We wanted to create movement over the body to emulate the force of a sand storm,’ explained Fast in his show notes – which equally matched the sand tones in shade and possibly even texture. ‘We worked with yellow, orange and fuchsia and feathered printed neoprene to compose a tropical exotic surge of colour,’ he continued – these came as boxy little jacket and skirt ensembles towards the middle of the collection, then followed by gowns with a more gothic sensibility that came weighted down with ruffles at their hems. It was a mix of tribal and high summer – with gold bangles accenting those golden woven tassel gowns (some with plunging backs, others spiralling around the body to shape the silhouette), and the neon yellow and orange mini dresses – which were cuter and younger than we have seen from him before.”
but style held aloof, spotting a number of difficulties, which it had no trouble pointing out: “it was nice to see Fast trying his hand at non-knit looks. He introduced a print—a lava-esque abstract rendered in blood red and in orange tones—and applied it to tailored dresses and skirts. He faces stiff competition here; there are designers in London who have built their careers around print, and they’ve learned how to construct a garment to highlight pattern. Fast hasn’t mastered that trick yet…Of more concern—and at this point, it’s a recurring concern—is Fast’s seeming disinterest in the fit and wearability of his clothes. The problem isn’t universal within his collections, but there were enough red-flag moments here—the shoulder that kept slipping off the first dress; the model hobbling down the runway in her long, skintight, crocheted number; another model who had to carry the train of her gown in her hand—that you really have to wonder whether Fast ever thinks about the real-life women who might wear his clothes. If that’s not something on his mind, it should be.”
it was the latter which stood out most in my mind, along with the idea that, though charming, some of the grassy-looking dresses reminded me a little of what we’d recently seen from topshop unique’s cleopatra-girl garb: cute, but weren’t they a too costume-y? and the way that lovely long, goldfish-orange fringed dress fit on its model was a point of concern: aren’t these clothes supposed to cling? if so, we have one of two problems: the fit (which is probably likelier), was just plain off, or these girls are so thin they’re no longer offsetting the clothes well (which is a problem unto itself). in-between there were plenty of fetching numbers, and i liked the way the designer embraced the season’s themes while making them his own, but ultimately, i’m not sure he’s evolving enough to keep things going for years (or even seasons) to come. he needs to work on learning new things, too, not just rehashing what he does best in new colours each show. and today, unfortunately, felt a bit too much like that for us to really have anything to celebrate.
(watch the collection video here)