Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Mark Fast Makes a Case for Confidence Over Sex // Fall 2018

The 2008 class of MA womenswear graduates from Central Saint Martins included Mary Katrantzou, Christopher Shannon, Masha Ma, Sander Lak and Mark Fast. They were the five that year that prospered. As is always the case, only the savviest will endure. 

Mark Fast’s legacy didn’t seem all that enduring. After his Fall 2014 show at London Fashion Week—underwhelming by his standards—he dropped off the official schedule for one reason or another. However, he returned in February 2017, three years after his departure, to Fashion Scout, the Freemasons’ Hall-based four-day long event that coincides with official proceedings in February and September. His return came with a renewed spirit 

His aesthetic has proved the most durable aspect of his work. You can still see the lasting effects of his stint at Bora Aksu. The Turkish designer, who also presents in London, has mastered macrame which infuses his work with an elegant seduction. Fast takes his clothes down a sexier route, with his figure-accentuating eyeleted dresses. (He also worked with Stuart Vevers when he steered Mulberry towards global recognition; those influences aren’t particularly noticeable.)
The narrative for Fall 2018 was based on Greek mythology. He looked at the Sirens, dangerous creatures in Greek mythology, who lured sailors with their lamenting melodies. He was thinking about the curse placed on them by Demeter after they failed to protect her daughter Persephone. Perhaps Fast was incarnating complex women with his clothes. From the beautiful to the damned, there was a representation of women. The diversity of his casting was one of the better efforts made in London this season. (There was a surprising lack of body diversity, something which he has championed in the past.)  It was also reflected in the duality of his colour palette, which included soft whites and lilac sea stark greens and blacks.

His “sequinned marabou yarns and bejewelled metallic knits intertwined with banded lycra” is a vision of sexy sportiness that isn’t as welcomed on the runway as it used to be. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements signalled that change. Across the four fashion weeks, designers were looking for ways to reinvent sexiness and what it means to be sexy in a world where the connotations point towards misconduct allegations.

Designers are unsure how to present sex on the runway. Many will consider it unfashionable to do so. The day after Christopher Kane’s show at the Tate Britain celebrated sex. His effort was joyous. Declaratively, he wouldn’t change gears based on the current cultural climate. At Alberta Ferretti in Milan, a few days later exposed models painted an image of objectified vulnerability—it looked out of place. 

Fast’s interpretation of sexy is unwavering. What he set out to do ten years ago has stood the test of time. It may be an aesthetic suited to reality stars and the bronzed Ibiza revellers but that contingent has never been stronger. They’ll be inclined to party in his aqua fringe party dresses or sequin-embroidered gowns, resembling modern iterations of Daisy Buchanan. It isn’t an overly cerebral aesthetic but it requires unfathomable amounts of chutzpah. His place in fashion is clearly defined. His position on the London schedule supports this statement.

Sex will always sell. But as Fast proves, confidence will take you further. 

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