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Preen’s Restrictive Choice

The designers were inspired by the 1990s London art scene and the suffragette movement — apt, but the latter reference came across too literally at times.
Preen Autumn/Winter 2017 | Source: InDigital.tv
By
  • Osman Ahmed

LONDON, United Kingdom — Preen is loved by women for its ability to combine seemingly man-repelling design with flattering form. It is the result of a married duo, Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, who feed off their opposing outlooks, and it became a cult classic in the 1990s with its boutique on Portobello Road, the heart of vintage eclecticism and Cool Britannia.

What worked in their latest collection was the ruched tulle dresses worn over floral slips — each one consisted of panels going in different directions, many cut on the bias and nipping in at all the right places. The duo said they were inspired by the London art scene in the early 1990s, as well as the suffragette movement — how very apt. However, the latter reference came across too literally at times; in reality, parrot green and Cadbury's purple is a jarring combination that looks at odds with the dark florals and pale pinks that the label has mastered.

The saturate floral eiderdown jackets, felt slightly derivative of the tablecloth prints resurrected by Vetements a while ago, and the duvet dressing more recently seen at Marques Almeida and Alexander McQueen; but they certainly packed a colourful punch.

Boned corsets worn over chunky irregular knits and worked into neat tailoring were a sublime and fresh proposition. But what would Emmeline Pankhurst make of the garment she violently tried to eliminate from women's wardrobes? "It was restricting then, but now we have the choice to wear one to make our bodies look sexy," reasoned Bregazzi.

Sometimes the frills and ruffles on shirts and dresses felt excessive and clownish — which is a criticism not exclusive to Preen. One cream silk blouse, however, ruched and smocked in different directions, artfully balanced theatricality with ease. And some of the dislocated, open shirts seemed impractical at first, but were smartly drawn in at the back to remain surprisingly flattering. Where the collection excelled was in the sense of layering and sculptural fit. And that's something a lot of women are craving right now.

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