Call it the Marie Antoinette effect: Skirts that stick out in panniers from the hips have been popping up in several collections in London. At Preen, Thea Bregazzi and Justin Thornton made theirs short and modernist, cutting them into abbreviated skirts or soft, molded leather dresses. The full hips, Bregazzi said, were inspired by Sofia Coppola's film, "but we wanted to look at the past and the future at the same time."
This leggy collection fits into the obsession with body-consciousness and the manipulation of shape that are gripping young London designers. Apart from the blown-up skirtsan abstract exaggeration of the tulip that's been around for a couple of seasonsPreen also explored the possibilities of spirally bandaged second-skin silhouettes. The best were wrapped bands of black elastic, layered pinafore-fashion over crisp white shirts, a styling device that prevented the look from turning too tarty. Moments like that demonstrated how this duo has grown up. They're celebrating their tenth year in business, and for an independent company, that's an achievement in any city.