A bright and mild Sunday morning seemed the perfect occasion for Preen by Thornton Bregazzi to showcase their latest collection. Whilst you’d be forgiven for assuming that the shell encrusted, wet-suit themed presentation sat within a beachier summer collection, this year Thea Bregazzi and Justin Thornton looked towards the sea for their Autumn/Winter 18 inspiration.
The pair’s neo-feminist-environmental army walked the runway in neoprene, lace, sheer crepe and bi-product fur, any plastic-looking pieces were made with a more sustainable metal thread. “They’re eco feminist, stated Bregazzi. I don’t think men are doing a very good job at looking after the world so let’s hope women are going to do a better job.”
Like many of the pair’s collections, this season Preen took inspiration from women and the places that they occupate in society. Fascinated by the stories of the Haenyeo women of Jeju whose portraits they came across at the Maritime Museum last year, the collection focused on feminity in harsher climats – much like the political landscape of today. Taking us to the South Korean province of Jeju, Preen relayed the story of the island’s female divers, women in their sixties and seventies known for their independent spirit, iron will and determination. Whilst Preen isn’t a stranger to strong willed females, having referenced The Handmaid’s Tale and The Scarlett Letter in previous collections, this is the maybe the first and only nod to the matriarchal family structure that the Haenyeo represent.
Used as a base layer, neoprene sat close to the skin much like the wetsuits of the Haenyeo. Utilitarian yet with a sense of understated glamour, a want for something more elegant in a harsh climate, tulle cocktail dresses and sheer lace gowns sat above the diving suits along with mesh footless lights and mother of pearl embellishments. Iridescent perals and beads made mermaid like waves, reflecting the white light of the venue’s setting. The real showstoppers though were the coral and seaweed inspired accessories; oversized and untamed fur shoes and bags billowing down the runway.
Words by Georgia Leitch / Images by Alexandra Neilson Clarke