Larger-sized women championed by London's cult leader of skinny, cobwebby knitted dressing? Unlikely but true, and when it came to it, Mark Fast courageously followed through on his convictions. "A lot of people think it's not appropriate to use plus-size models," he said. "But I met these girls and I loved their charisma. They're just jewels, you know?" He needed to keep his nerve about it. According to Amanda May, Fast's managing director, his show stylist quit over the designer's insistence on including three models from a plus agency on the runway amongst regular girls.
That incident is certain to detonate a media furor in which Fast may find himself accused of stirring up self-publicity—but anyone who encountered the soft-spoken 28-year-old Canadian backstage would pick up on the fact that he isn't like that. In any case, his status as an insider designer for hot women doesn't need any artificial push. Runway-side, what Fast's fans were actually focusing on was their next excuse to wriggle into something strategically holey to stretch across themselves. This season there was a move forward, vaguely inspired, Fast said, by watching twenties Egyptian silent-movie epics and Erin Brockovich. That could account, sort of, for the feathery fringed skirt on a scoop-neck dress, the sucked-to-the-body dresses (including a good one in lemon and beige), and an incendiary girdle and bra in cinnamon.
Still, Fast's attraction is more in his technique—and the way he thinks of his knitting as a close cousin of hosiery rather than sweater dressing. (Twinsets have never really been his thing.) In the long run, that small but notable fact about this ex-Saint Martins specialist could be crucial to a career path that might easily lead him into a lucrative future in leg coverings and underpinnings.