Mark Fast is sitting in a chair looking up….way up…at the magnificent white arches of the Allen Lambert Galleria in Toronto’s Brookfield Place. A team of men in hard hats is uncoiling 2 km of thick white rope. Two off-duty window washers are scampering across the lofty beams, rigging the rope according to drawings that are being studied on the ground below. When they are finished, a series of intersecting loops will descend to a human-sized knit dress, creating the effect of a garment crafted by a six-storey high knitting machine.
“When I first walked into this building I thought, ‘this looks like a very large knitting machine,’ ” Fast explained of the soaring atrium, conceived by Spanish designer Santiago Calatrava. “It made me feel very small. I wanted to recreate that emotion.”
The ambitious installation has been commissioned by Lancome to celebrate the beauty company’s 75th anniversary. It will remain on exhibit during the Luminato festival of arts and creativity.
At 29, Fast is one of most exciting young designers to emerge in recent years.
His knits, boldly modeled at London Fashion Week on a variety of physiques, are web-like constructions that hug the body like hosiery.
“I imagine that there’s a women in the machine and I am knitting around her body,” Fast describes. “It’s very mathematical.”
Fast grew up on a busy stretch of highway outside of Winnipeg. “We were never allowed to go past the end of our driveway,” he says.
By the time he was 12, he knew fashion was a calling, and Fast later set out for the prestigious Central Saint Martins school in London.
He is now a finalist for the Paris-based ANDAM prize, which will award 220,000 Euros to one of six designers on June 28. And Lancôme is releasing a lipstick, called “Fast Kisses,” which Fast helped create.
“There is much more to my creativity than fashion,” he remarked, casting his eyes upward to his expanding knit sculpture. “So to see this happen is a dream.”
You can see Mark Fast’s Luminato installation at Brookfield Place until June 20. “Fast Kisses” will be available at the Bay Queen Street from June 17 to 19 (or until they’re gone).
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