When they first showed in London in the 1990′s the Preen catwalk presentation was an absolute must for me. At a time when names such as Alexander McQueen were helping make London the absolute ‘must go’ catwalk city the shows were made more special by the fact that there was just so much homegrown British talent, not just those schooled in the U.K. but also those born and bred across the whole of the British isles (Alexander McQueen, Owen Gaster, Andrew Groves, Robert Carey Williams to name but a few).
Preen stood out for me because they made clothes you just wanted to wear, the right side of deconstructed punky- futuristic kinda girl mixed with a dreamy cadbury flake kinda girl. I was always there, front row, early as I could possibly be – happy to miss someone else’s show if necessary because I just HAD to see what they were producing for the season.
This included going to a show in the middle of winter, in the South West outskirts of central London to a covered open fruit and vegetable
market and sitting for two hours in the cold at 10pm waiting for the show to start..to be fair this was typical on the show season in London in the late 90′s ..two hour waits in the most extreme of locations, but we didn’t care we loved it, we were there, front row, lapping it up; The whole of the fashion world came to see our home grown talent!
Preen hail from the Isle of Man, not an area synonymous with fashion design yet still managed to export to the world a couple of extremely gifted designers who met at 18, at an art foundation in their homeland, and whose coming together of Justin Thornton’s slightly more punk aesthetic with Thea Bregazzi’s somewhat dreamy elegance wowed the London scene, moving on to show in NYC (2008 to 2013) in order to cement their brand.
Preen initially set up as a shop on Portobello Road West London, I remember going shopping there. It was from this that the catwalk line grew. Maybe because of and not in spite of this, the brand has grown a truly steady successful business, from politicians to film and music celebrities
sporting their designs; yet these are designs we all want to wear. Why? The clothes seem ageless yet cool, timeless yet dynamic, casual yet chic all at the same time. They are a pair of brave visionaries with clothes that have the ‘Preen Edge’- a waterfall frill juxtaposes an asymmetric hem, pin-tucking and smoking sit against sprawling raw threads, greys and blacks offset pinks and florals whilst being dotted with pagan symbols.
The move to New York between gave them the international recognition they deserved. Moving back to London after the birth of the second daughter saw a triumphant return to their homeland and their original fans.Its very much a word of mouth kind of brand one without advertising millions to buy their way to success, but with the wonderful creations that show no sign, thankfully, of waning.
Words Jo Phillips