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Mark Fast x Topshop

We wait with bated breath for the new diffusion line hitting the high street stores...

Mark Fast may - and does - look preternaturally at peace, but his heart beats contrarian. The industry darling wants to dress “big girls,” but won’t dress the biggest pop star of our time (Lady Gaga). He’s diffusing at lightspeed, with luxe basics line Faster by Mark Fast in its second season and the inevitable collab now in Topshops. Yet he insists on keeping his main line in studio, not mass-produced in factories. Fast, born in the western badlands of Canada, is now in Toronto for ten-day arts fest Luminato. There he’s rigged up his first installation, The Ascension of Beauty: a knitted sculpture of woman, rose, and rope, designed in partnership with Lancome. Dazzling in scope and intricacy, the work is a six-story high testament to the 29-year-old designer’s skill, ambition, and romanticism. Here, Dazed talks to a driven spirit about life in the fast lane.

Dazed Digital: Let’s talk about the Luminato project first, because that’s exciting. Your first installation.
Mark Fast: So basically, I went to the venue and I thought oh my goodness, with all these rafters, it’s like we’re underneath a knitting machine. This is really cool. So I got rope to emulate the emulsion of the knitting, and a stitch going all the way up to the sky, sort of a sense of hope and beauty. They’re installing it at the moment. The installation itself—all the riggers working, unwinding these cones of rope—is almost like a super-sized knitting team.

DD: Can you climb up and down it, like Rapunzel?
Mark Fast: No, although that would be funny. It would be cool if you did.

DD: Are you taking photos?
Mark Fast: Oh yeah, yeah. My new iPhone has the video on it.

DD: YouTube? Going viral?
Mark Fast: I’d do a documentary of it. It’s so cool, the way the workers are making the sculpture. I think I’ll edit it and put it together and see if I can’t make something out of it. [distracted by a small dog coming over] I’m going to get a dog. A dachshund. I know exactly the one in my head. I met one in the park. They’re just so odd-looking and everyone makes fun of them, but they’re really smart dogs, you know.

DD: The underdogs of dogs.
Mark Fast: But it acts like a big dog, I think.

DD: Are you still living and working in East London?
Mark Fast: Well, north-east London, yeah. We have decided to stay in the studio there, but we have to rent another room, because, yeah, there’s lots to do.

DD: You’re doing Mark Fast, and then Faster, which I hear is doing well.
Mark Fast: We’re expanding Faster—new colours, new pieces—and seeing what the buyers want. The tights have done really well.

DD: They’re basics, but you can do so much. Do you follow street-style blogs to see how it’s being worn?
Mark Fast: Yeah, I’ve seen some in Korea and other places. It’s really cool to see. We had a Japanese client come in to see it, and they tried it on and just layered up all the Faster pieces—tights with bodysuits with dresses. And it actually looked really cool. In France, they would have just worn the dress. It’s really inspiring how different it can look.

DD: And now Topshop! How’d that come about?
Mark Fast: Well, it’s something that goes with the.... you know, because they’ve sponsored me so many times. It’s a great opportunity to see how my stuff works on the high street. I love my knitted beaded dress I did for them—a really heavy dress, and actually really expensive.

DD: Is it fun or challenging to work within a new set of limitations—price, materials, and so on?
Mark Fast: The technology is great, you know, to be able to produce in factories. I don’t have that. So it’s great to see how I can inject my signature into a sort of industrial-type production.

DD: When you first starting out and I talked to you, I remember you were so keen on doing everything by hand. Is it a bit of a struggle for you not to be able to touch every piece?
Mark Fast: Well, that’s for Topshop and for Faster. But the Mark Fast line has to be handmade.

DD: And it will always be handmade?
Mark Fast: It should be.

Photographer Matthew Mumford
Styling Nelma Kalonji
Hair Hiroshi Matsushita using Bumble &Bumble
Make Up Nobuko Maekawa
Model Antonella at Premier