When Justin Thornton said, "Clothing we would have thought of as 'mother of the bride' four years ago now looks modern to us," he surely can't have meant that this is Carole Middleton's fashion moment. What he must have been talking about was the spirit of decorum that informed Preen's Resort collection. The knee lengths, the sensible necklines, the retro feel of pieces cut from the souvenir silk scarves that people used to buy on holiday harked back to the label's roots in recycled vintage. But Preen has come a long way, baby, and all of that quietly confident journey was in the collection too.
Maybe not so quiet. Thornton and Thea Bregazzi have never used so much color before: Fiery red, cyclamen, and chrome yellow were a dramatic counterpoint to sober black. And maybe not so sober. The black stretch Lycra dress with the scoop neckline was prime film noir vamp material.
The crux of the collection was this combination of modernity and tradition, one of the reasons why Thornton and Bregazzi are so enamored by Japan. And, with the tragic turn of events there, the Preen pair felt like honoring one of their favorite places.
Bregazzi's love of kimonos inspired the wide sleeves of a shirtdress, the obi-like waist detailing, and the floral prints on yellow silk (paired to great effect with black cashmere in a sweater or trompe l'oeil cardigan/dress hybrid). It was Thornton's idea to overprint the silk with leopard spots. "Sophistication with an edge," he said. Same with the black leather accents: everything from a shirt collar on a silk blouse and the trim on a pant pocket to a full skirt with big slash pockets. There was sportiness in such sophistication, the same sportiness the designers love in American fashion. Hence, the crepe de chine wrap dress or floor-length wrap skirt in raspberry and hot pink. Mother of the bride? Not unless she's Mrs. Robinson. This was a smart, sexy, seductive take on urban dressing.