06.07.2021, Fashion Interview

With “Winter ocean dive” the designer Mark Fast, “King of the Knitted”, presented a collection of an underwater world of fantasy that flows into strength and self-confidence, with designs that are reminiscent of the clear water of the sea, far away from here and now. With designs recalling waves smashing against the rocks.

How did you get into design and what makes it so special for you?

Living in Canada in the 90’s I was surrounded by the forest and the prairies of Canada. I was fascinated by MTV and Hollywood. I loved the costumes and imagination they gave me. To dream and to think of these things while I was surrounded by nature formed my fascination of what is beyond the forest. What else the world had in store for me and how I drew from these elements.

It is important because it allows me to keep thinking, travel the world, meet people and allows me to continue to be creative, for people to interact with my work and make a living on the journey. I am very grateful for this process and blessed enough to continue and do. This process, this gift allows me to have a creative journey. And I appreciate it as a blessing. I am grateful for my creativity and continue to hone it. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

You studies at the Central Saint Martins in London, a quit known address. In which way your studies affected you?

It’s not a secret that CSM is an iconic institute. For me moving to London just after the new millennium was an exhilarating experience. At that time CSM was located just at the outskirts of Soho with all its wit and colour. Those years for me were one big idea factory, experimentation and realisation with a once in a lifetime experience of being mentored by the legendary late Professor Louise Wilson. This period galvanised who I am now. It helped me understand my vision, my aspiration, my identity, and my unique techniques.

Where do you get your main inspiration from?

That’s an interesting question because inspiration is everywhere and every time inspiration come from a different source at times it might be an experiment with a yarn or a unique linking technique which I borrowed from one type of clothing and merged it with others. Other times it could be unique experiences of dressing the most beautiful women on the earth. Some call it muse who inspire me to create shapes with those techniques and sometimes it just appears in my dreams

You are somehow known as the “King of the Knitted”. What is so interesting about knitwear for you?

There are things I simply don’t ask myself. I can just say that I believe that knitwear is the most interesting and rewarding medium in fashion. I mean , don’t get me wrong, of course in my collections you can find the full range from woven, tailoring, sportswear, printed fabrics and accessories to name a few. But the core, the essence, the attitude is always diverted and reflected from the key body-conscious signature pieces in their distinct colours outwards to the collection.

What means finding „beauty in the unknown“to you?

I think finding beauty in the unknown refers to finding inspiration in everything and everywhere. It’s almost like a moment of “objet trouvé”. And by that I mean emulating things I have seen, places I’ve been or experienced and applying it into a different space or medium and by that a new creation is born.

Which designer / artist has kind of “shaped” you?

Where I was growing up was the steel industry where my father is a key figure and there are amazing trees in Canada. It wasn’t solely the fashion designers who have contributed of course, like Alaia who’s designs which are still timeless, Herve Leger and Jean Paul Gaultier or the Fashion Television (FT) show hosted by Jeanne Beker as a kid I was obsessed with, it was the interaction with other young up and coming aspiring designers I met in london and the unique energy of the city that I feel shaped who I am artistically.

You did several Collaborations f.ex with Louboutin or Topshop: What would be your dream collaboration?

This is a really hard question because today and especially after opening five mono brand stores I almost feel like Mark Fast the designer has a wide range of products that I Mark Fast am already collaborating with my brand designed by me. Each and every category, shoes bags and accessories in addition to the full collection of knitwear and woven in my view is a meaningful collaboration. And for me my aspiration that this will continue and grow bigger and wider.

What was the picture in front of your inner eye for „Winter ocean dive“?

This is a great example of how a whole collection can start from a bundle of yarns and viscose. I mean during that time it was still very much lockdown period and I sat in my studio playing around with some Italian yarns, mohairs and metallics in blues. And before you realize samples start to emerge with shimmering finishing and embellishments. Creating in that period was a form of escapism from what was going on. The color palette and later on the prints we have designed truly seduced me to an underwater imagination word. So I guess this is where the picture came from.

Especially in London the pandemic had been quite intense. How did the lockdown affect your designing process?

I don’t know if it’s politically correct to say it. On a personal level I’m quite private and reserved. I don’t like big crowds or being the centre of attention. I normally find the World just a touch too hectic and the rhythm sometimes a bit too fast for Mark Fast. So being able to have more me time, with less travelling and ability to concentrate more from a creative point of view enabled me to be very creative, and proactive.

When thinking about the future of fashion: Where do we go?

I think that people realise that they can be as productive and in many cases working form home. People utilising their time in better ways, be able to work on their bodies and I believe they will want to be able to show their bodies. 

Women and men are looking younger and healthier because they take more time to take care of their bodies and putting energy into thinking of what they are eating and how their actions influence our planet. Those notions are definitely already filtering down through our designs. I am a strong believer that fashion is a mirror of society; and as such the designs will be.

Interview by Carolin Desiree Becker

All pictures courtesy of Mark Fast and Chris Yates