There are places in London where several eras exist simultaneously. Take Kings Cross - an ancient Roman battleground that would became one of the nineteenth-century city's vast junkyards, and which today collides sagging Georgian terraces with smug Victorian hotels, and grimy concrete office buildings with glistening 21st century towers.
Preen's show was staged in the base of one of those shiny just-finished towers, in a long, curving commuter tunnel which links the new business district (home to Google, Central Saint Martin’s and LVMH, amongst others) with the vast railway station. The choice of space was an eloquent one, for a label that time-travels through history with practised ease, running a rag-bag of influences through its sophisticated kaleidoscope.
Today's show was soundtracked by a slowed, melancholy mix of The Carpenter's 'Maybe' - but rather than Karen Carpenter's perky All-American image, the witchy, ethereal aesthetic on show felt far more grounded in the vagabond styles of Stevie Nicks or Kate Bush. Ruffled tartans, bib-fronted Victoriana dresses, corset-strung pants and translucent shifts drenched in floral appliqué were rendered in a dreamy Seventies blend of oranges, browns, sunshine yellows and cornflower blues - the kind of shapes, patterns and colours you'd find on the Portobello Market stalls where Preen started life in the Nineties. But nostalgia was tempered with confidently modern attitude, in the shape of lean, pleat-trimmed tailoring and jaggedly patchworked shearling-plaid hybrid jackets. And the energy of those dense, unsettled forms gave the collection its strongest kick, as the models filed off into the distance - proving yet again Preen's ability to juggle time, refracting the past into the far-off future.