The British Fashion Council, celebrating its 25th anniversary, lured many Brit designers home this season—but not Preen. "We love New York and we love London," Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi explained via e-mail shortly before their Spring collection hit the runway, "but showing in New York has vastly increased our business internationally and in the U.K."

Like any smart concern these days, Preen focused on profitability as well as its core values—which the program summed up neatly, free-association style, as: "sectioned, graphic line, lingerie fragility, Corinne Day early 1990s." With the starting point of "a piece of cord wound around the body," it came as no surprise that there was also more than a touch of soft bondage, too. We're not talking whips and fetish shoes, though. This dress-heavy collection was very romantic, infinitely more sophisticated than kinky. It featured many marvels of sculptural construction, with single pieces stitched from up to ten different fabrics and/or featuring topiary frills that weren't especially inviting of touch.

Where the piecing and ruffling worked best was, respectively, on some fierce silver pants and broad-shouldered blouses. The suiting, some in a square-embossed silk, was another high point of the show. There were also shoes—a new category for Preen this season—with cordlike details that should have some fashion types positively tied up in knots.