Preen Resort 22
Photography Willow Williams at Serlin Associates Fashion Thea Lewis-Yates Model Izzy Wild at The Squad Management
Inspiration for the Preen Resort 22 collection came initially from a visit that Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi made to the Bright Young Things exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. The collection of Cecil Beaton’s photography from the 1920’s and 30’s captured the giddy delirium and creative spirit that followed the first world war. This display of unbound joy and carefree expression following a time of tragedy struck a chord with the designers. Coupled with the fusing of both the masculine and feminine in their fun expression, combining suits with ruffles, silks with gabardines, frills with leather, Preen instantly drew parallels with where we find ourselves today.
In this exclusive story, Also catches up with Justin and Thea to find out how the designers have found designing in a global pandemic and how this has influenced their approach.
This collection was designed whilst the UK was in a strict lockdown, how did this influence your ideas and process?
It was a challenge but we enjoyed the process. We were working from our home in Suffolk, we were viewing so many amazing things online and virtually it was inspiring to let our minds wander to a time of freedom and joy.
Over the past few seasons, you have shifted your focus away from large catwalk shows with 40 or more looks to a more intimate approach of considered look books and smaller collections. Was this a conscious shift to new way of working?
This is partly because we were responding to the world crisis, lockdown and the unprecedented situation. But also a response to the feeling we had had for a few seasons, that there was too much, things had become too fast, too focused on the new, with no time to develop and grow, regardless of the designs or the process. We were feeling like things had to change, our response was to do a more focused collection and to really focus on sustainability. We were already working towards this pre pandemic, but the situation allowed us to really explore this more. It’s still a work in progress and we are doing all we can to provide sustainable options within our collections.
You have been reusing fabrics from past collections, over-dying and revisiting your archives; all things that should be welcomed in the current climate. Has this way of working been refreshing and how much nostalgia was also involved?
This is something we have always done, but when the mills were closed and fabric development not available, we really drew on this. It’s a strength of ours and something we really enjoy. We feel there is something so modern about designing with the knowledge that you are wearing something that respects our planet.
How do you feel the pandemic has changed the way women dress and how is this influencing you as designers?
There is a feeling of joy and optimism. We have found that women want colours and bold prints and feeling of effortless dressing. The idea of saving something for best is gone, wear it and love it, if not now, when?
To me Preen really succeeds in being an ageless brand; at once youthful and carefree, the next moment grown up, refined and sure of herself, of course with a healthy dose of romance running through everything you do. Who do you feel is the Preen woman?
She is every woman; you can’t pigeonhole who you design for when you are international. We draw on references and moods but for us the real joy is seeing someone wearing your creations in their own style. It’s totally inspiring.
What are you working on the moment and what’s next for the brand?
We are working on the winter 2023 seasons, developing our sustainable options and including more limited editions of recycled styles. We are also developing our Preen home collection to broaden our offering.