The Fashion School Kent State University

The Fashion School Kent State University

The Fast and the furious: Stylist at London Fashion Week resigns over designer Mark Fast's decision to use size 14 models

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Preparing for his London Fashion Week slot, knitwear designer Mark Fast decided to challenge the obsession with size zero models and use curvier women to showcase his creations.

It was a bold move - and one which nearly led to his entire project unravelling.

When he told his design team that his figure-hugging outfits would be paraded down the runway by size 12 and 14 models, two of his people were apparently so angry they quit.

Mark Fast models

Big issue: A size 12 model leads the final walk-out at the Mark Fast catwalk show at London Fashion Week. The designer used size 12 and 14 girls alongside more conventional-sized models to showcase his knitted dresses

The stylist and creative designer deserted Fast, 28, just three days before Saturday's event at the University of Westminster.

The show was only saved after freelancers Daniela Agnelli and Natalie Hubbarb stepped in to help Fast, working into the early hours to ensure all the designs were ready for the big day.

Happily, it was a great success, with three models from the agency 12+ UK gracing the catwalk.

Enlarge   Mark Fast show at London Fashion Week Enlarge   Mark Fast show at London Fashion Week

Fuller-figured: Curvier women were used to model Mr Fast's 'bodycon' dresses. In 2007, a Model Health Inquiry was launched in response to the death of several 'size zero' models. It failed to set out any firm industry guidelines

Amanda May, Fast's creative director, yesterday blamed the walkout on 'creative differences' over the use of larger models. 'There was a team change and we are glad we stuck to our vision,' she said.

'The decision to use fuller girls is something we have been talking about. There's an idea that only thin and slender women are able to wear Mark's dresses and he wanted to combat that. We wanted

women to know they didn't have to be a size zero to wear a Mark Fast dress - curvier women can look even better in them.'

Enlarge   Mark Fast show at London Fashion Week

Mark Fast show at London Fashion Week.\n

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The models used in the show were Hayley Morley, 21, a size 12, Laura Catterall, 20, a size 14 and Gwyneth Harrison, 25, a size 12-14.

Sarah Watkinson, 37, founded 12+ UK in 2000 and has 37 models on her books.

She said: 'I'm very happy that Amanda and Mark stuck to their passion. They really wanted to do it but it was difficult for them.

'Mark has been passionate about using larger women and really wanted to show that they look great in his dresses.

'Every time I think things are progressing, they end up going back to how they've always been. I hope this has sparked lasting changes.'

Fast, a Canadian, has also been involved in the photographic exhibition All Walks Beyond The Catwalk, which features models aged 18 to 65 and sized eight to 16 wearing clothes created by young London designers.

The exhibition, which opened on Friday at Somerset House, attempts to challenge the narrow view of beauty in the fashion world.

The day before Fast's show, chairman of the Institute of Psychiatry's eating disorder team, Professor Ulrike Schmidt, had raised concerns over the use of stick-thin models.

He said: 'We are very concerned that the lack of medical checks of models at London Fashion Week, coupled by an environment where being underweight is the norm, prevents those with eating disorders into gaining an insight into their condition.'

Enlarge   Mark Fast show at London Fashion Week

Enlarge   Mark Fast show at London Fashion Week

 Mr Fast used conventionally-slim models (above) alongside the curvier women

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