In a well-lit hall of The National Theatre, Preen put on one of their strongest sartorial performances for the last few years. Borrowing from their shared well of memory and inspiration, Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi built upon sediments of previous collections: the grainy prints and jarring black and red detailing from their punk-inflected outing last winter returned to meet the full skirts and looser shapes of their Tippi Hedren pre-fall tribute. The result was beautifully draped frocks and dramatic coats, collaged and printed with just enough graphic contrast to seduce the eye without sacrificing elegance. With the growing expansion of the Preen universe, including most recently a Mini-Preen line, the imperative to translate their prodigious artistic vocabulary into appealing, realistic clothes was as palpable as ever in this collection and its focus on seasonal dressing. Never has so much warmth been present in a Preen show, from inuit and blanket coats to furry trapper hats and hoods with high retail appeal, even if coming from the raw, uncanny source of Preen’s DNA.
As for muses, they had moved on from the cult dystopia and sleaze from Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo 66 and David Jarman’s Jubilee to look at seminal classics of 1977 cinema, namely Annie Hall and, atypically, Star Wars. For if Diane Keaton’s relaxed boyish cool epitomizes Preen’s tomboy tailoring to a T- all those slouchy trouser suits and crisp shirts - the intergalactic metallics and magnified Darth Vader prints staked new territory for the designer duo, though not necessarily for the better. Like Rodarte’s Star Wars-inspired finale a few days ago, Preen also stumbled into blunt literalness towards the end, dulling rather elevating garments via their otherworldly reference.
What came before the closing looks, however, including the electrifying series of luminous orange ensembles (that fur!) and Preen’s debut line of shoes (second-skin knee high boots and prim criss-cross pumps), made any shortcomings easily forgivable. It is clear Thornton and Bregazzi are going from strength to strength, and their imminent growth, as long as they can preserve their singular identity, would be nothing but good news.
Watch the video of the show!