It often feels like it's David Bowie's year in fashion, but 2013 will be something special with the huge retrospective opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in March. Preen
's Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi staked an early claim to Bowie-mania with a pre-fall collection based on his 1983 vampire movie, The Hunger
. It gave them a surprising amount to work with. Most immediate was an eighties New Wave edge: the dramatic color palette of night black and blood red; the graphic patterns (a poppy print, polka dots, the black-and-white leopard jacquard); the boy/girl element in, say, a quilted tartan biker with pebbled leather sleeves, or pleated, slightly pegged pants with zippered pockets. The eighties designer chic of The Hunger
's queen vamp Catherine Deneuve was echoed in a blouse in black satin devore or a shift dress laden with swirling rococo embroidery. Thornton and Bregazzi even referenced the movie's lighting effects with a striated texture intended to evoke light shining through blinds. "We've done so much print in the past that we were more interested in texture this time," said Thornton. "We wanted something more abstract."
But there was nothing abstract about the collection's hard-edged sophistication. When the Preen twosome used lace, it was in an anything-but-fragile crazy-paving pattern. That same lace was tiered with silk in a skirt to create a tough-frills effect. Navy tulle was touched with a flash of fluoro citron. Bondage pants were cut from luxe silk crepe. Thornton and Bregazzi also sharpened their signature Preen hybrid, backing pebbled leather biker pants with a tailored pant, or attaching a nylon pac-a-mac front to a tailored wool rear. The star outfit might have been the matte stretch crepe halter dress with the pleated bodice and flared skirt. In the back room of their West London atelier, 12-week-old Blythe was peacefully napping, while out front, her parents were cooking up clothes to make night-stalkers wilt with desire.