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Preen's Witchy Woman

Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi fused punk and pagan as they purloined the cultural history of the United Kingdom beyond London.
Preen Spring/Summer 2017 | Source: InDigital.tv
By
  • Dan Thawley

LONDON, United Kingdom — Believe it or not, but the rolling hills of mother England stretch beyond the confines of London, and they certainty hold all sorts of weird and wonderful things you can't find in the dive clubs, art studios and council estates of the East End. It's a fact lost on a fair few of the city's younger designers, who drink from that wellspring for all it's worth. Preen's Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi are of a slightly older ilk (as are their clients) and are comfortable enough in their own skins to purloin the wider cultural history of the United Kingdom.

As per recent seasons, Preen's Spring Summer 2017 show notes were visual. This time a photograph of a curious stack of books revealed the designers' Spring/Summer inspirations, from Nick Knight's 90's monograph Skinhead to books on Japanese 'gothic lolitas' and the pagan rituals of British folklore. Hailing from the Isle of Man, the designers have authority above and beyond their contemporaries when it comes to witchcraft, a dominant theme here that manifested itself in decorative symbolism from dangly pentagram toggles to floral wreath motifs across the collection's smocked asymmetric dresses (pulled off the shoulder and spiralled with ruffles).

“Suede heads, skinhead goths, paganism and witchcraft. It’s a bit dark but we looked at if from a fun point of view, like the pastel goths in Japan. They say they are pastel on the outside but black on the inside” said Justin Thornton, referencing the mix of sunny yellow tartans and lime green devoré that punctuated the romance of their slinky floral velvet frocks and cotton shirting festooned with ruffles. A riff on the polo shirt, a skinhead staple, proved interesting: split-sleeved and gathered in the front, or festooned with frilly shirting sleeves, it tied their punk to their pagan with more conviction than the silver sequin tube skirts and a bias dress in violent purple lamé that preceded their richly-embroidered finale.

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