Mark Fast has built his label and reputation on very little: namely, very many, very, very little black dresses. Slit and slat with holes like a cartoonish block of cheese, cleaving closer to the body than surgical stockings, they are his signature. Then again, there's a difference between sticking with a signature and getting stuck in a rut, and at the moment, the jury's out when it comes to Fast. Stylists - and increasingly established ones at that - still love those tiny elastic-looped frocks on the right rake-thin models. Journalists, on the other hand, have begun to beg the question: what else can Fast offer?
Today there were many murmurs from all quarters questioning exactly what was different on Fast's S/S 2011 catwalk. There were fringed dresses of the type he showed in last Spring's excursion inspired by Egypt and Erin Brockovitch: the fringes this time snaked down second-skin leggings as well, accompanied by a narrative apparently inspired by ecological destruction. Apparently, both lines of thought ended in the same holey frocks and silken skeins in shades of pale blue, beige and white. Admittedly, the holes this time were bigger than ever before - sometimes forming semi-anatomical frameworks of elasthane around the models' torsos, revealing more flesh than they covered. And if we're ringing the changes, a few protective panels of PVC were worked into the pieces this time, adding a layer of reflective shine or sometimes popping breasts out into those odd cones we saw emerge from left-field in a handful of collections in New York.
So that's the new. The vast majority however felt like the old, a rerun not only of Fast's work but also of Christopher Kane's energetic first catwalk outing. And truth be told, Fast managed to harness some of that energy today, in dresses that popped in fluoro shades of fuschia and citrus yellow, with mosaics of crystals vibrating on tendrils like the spine of a crocodile. It was great a second time round. In fact, as Fast's programme notes pointed out, it was the fifth time around this season, and it was still pretty fine. But with his line of 'basics', Faster by Mark Fast, offering cut-price versions of those cut-out frocks he's attaching four-figure prices to on the catwalk - not to mention the deluge of two-a-penny high street rip-offs - Fast will need to evolve and diversify if he wants to survive. That's basic Darwin theory.