‘The starting point was strong Victorian women, out on the moors, windblown,’ said Thea Bregazzi of Preen. ‘Mixed with abstract expressionists, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko,’ added Justin Thornton.
Not that you could see these influences in an obvious way. As ever with this British design pair, their inspirations fuel their creativity – and this show was creatively off the chart - but in the end, you’re always left with a collection of highly desirable clothes that the wearer can read into – or not – however she likes.
To that end, the finely printed butterflies and ferns found on blouses or as sliced up prints on dresses were inspired by Beatrix Potter’s botanical drawings. The delicate hand-embroidered panel on one skirt, made with chain and crystal, came from Victorian era fern presses. As Bregazzi put it, ‘It’s not bling!’ And the slices of print, embellishment and colour, all on one outfit, was about creating patchworks, she said, ‘but in a modern way’.
They nailed a few more obvious burgeoning New York trends in the process: the waisted pencil skirt, towering laced-up platforms, smart little peplum jackets and fur panels running down the fronts of smart thigh-high coats. Along with the splashes of Rothko-type colour, were some very pleasing ‘off’ colours, muddy browns and greens – also fast become trend-worthy.
Hats off to their collection and also to the way they presented it. What Thornton and Bregazzi do so brilliantly and consistently at their New York shows, is to build a crescendo, from day to evening, simple to complex, so that the last outfits you see are spectacularly loaded with sequins and print – but always in the most refined way possible.