It's probable that many of Mark Fast's peers have envied him in recent years: Right out of the gate, he established the kind of instantly identifiable aesthetic signature that most designers take years, if not entire careers, to build. If you saw a corset-tight engineered knit dress laced with cleverly placed holes, you knew right away it was Mark Fast. Perhaps inevitably, though, he's had trouble proving he's not a one-trick pony; the collection he showed tonight was obviously intended as a riposte to that complaint. There was lots of leather, a new material for Fast, and more intriguingly, he played fresh technical games with his knits, developing ways of building them three-dimensionally. The leathers, it must be said, were a misfire. There were some decent T-shirt dresses in black leather and beige suede, and a few interesting jackets, high-necked and closed to one side with straps. But none looked quite accomplished or luxurious enough.
Fast's new knits are trickier to assess. The first few looks were promising—a wrap coat with massive shoulders that looked a bit like shrubbery; a high-waisted miniskirt, trademark-tight, in a dense wool rib, with a matching crop top featuring more of that shrubbery. Later in the show, Fast sent out a variety of typically skin-baring dresses with a cool accordion pleat built into the knit, and he used the same technique in a big, drapey cardigan. There was a great stretched wool that looked like Mongolian fur, too, used in a dramatic coat. It was nice to see Fast finding ways to accommodate his innovative knitting to covered-up looks, as well as racy ones.
But there was a certain point in this show—maybe around the time Fast sent out a super-mini knit dress, barely there in form as well as color, with a block of that shrubbery knit ringing the hemline—where he started to lose the audience. People can argue until the cows come home about whether or not Fast's super-sexed-up aesthetic is vulgar, but there were a few too many looks here that were just plain hard to fathom.