It’s no secret that Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi love romance — it undercuts all their collections, but often more futuristic science fiction elements can dominate their designs. This season, they let the romance take centre stage — inspired by the avant-garde English poet Edith Sitwell. Cue a more whimsical collection, that was staged in the Tate Britain’s vastly arched space, punctuated with powder pink trees that were bare of leaves and inspired by Sitwell’s A Book of Winter.
The dresses were pretty, with softly muted tapestry florals in quilted velvet and chiffons, and oversized plaid coats came with enlarged frock proportions and frilly hems. Peasant dresses were teamed with fitted corsets, and flesh was exposed through peekaboo cut-outs and lingerie slips. Ruffled poet blouses were both sweet and masculine, while sheer tops and dresses came with a ribbon-finished trim.
There was colour here, too — moving on from last season’s mostly monochromatic collection, Thornton and Bregazzi offered pastel and sorbet shaded pinks and azure blues, alongside deep tangerine oranges and rich burgundies.
Preen’s female muse always has a rebellious streak. And this season The Runaways’ Joan Jett provided inspiration. Charcoal knitted sweaters came with “girl” slogans and fierce over-the-knee lace-up boots had stomping attitude. The designers managed to find a way to seamlessly intertwine the romanticism of the female poetry set with the 1970s wild-child punk spirit of Jett that felt authentic.
“The Runaways were the first girl band to sing angry music,” said Thornton backstage. “They were revolutionary and changed the way modern women are now. As did Sitwell, in a different way.”