Preen Mixes High-Tech Prints and Lace Inspired by Virginia Woolf

The London-based duo behind rising label Preen took inspiration from the works of Virginia Woolf to concoct a refreshingly original collection that mixed the futuristic with the old-fashioned.

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A look from Preen's Spring 2012 collection.
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The London-based duo Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi of rising label Preen took inspiration from the works of Virginia Woolf to concoct a refreshingly original collection that mixed the futuristic with the old-fashioned.
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The collection boasts an utterly original combination of prints in the form of pixelated pastels and black lace. "We were talking about how we wanted spring to be light, and we wanted it to have a sense of romance," says Bregazzi. "But we still wanted it to be modern … and something new."
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The main inspiration for the collection came from the work of author Virginia Woolf. "We were looking at colors and the elements of colors and talking about florals and how to do floral in a new way, and we're reading Virginia Woolf and it's all about time traveling and changing genders," explains Bregazzi. "So it all somehow came together."
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The pixelated-looking pastels came from a decidedly low-tech source: "We were playing a lot with prints -- doing a lot of photo-copying, doing it by hand, and enlarging things, and pixels started to happen," explains Bregazzi. "[The patterns] started to pixel-late, and we thought, 'Oh great, that's it in its purest form.' And then we sort of built up from there."
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The addition of lace, according to Thornton, came from Woolf's social set -- the Bloomsbury set. "But then we've made it very geometric and like black and white on all the colors."
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One of Preen's signature elements has become a bit of detailing at the waist, either in the form of a delicate ruffle or a more modern-looking peplum waist. "We always thought it was quite flattering," says Bregazzi. "It's kind of retro in some things, but we wanted to bring it forward, to modernize it. We wanted something feminine but not too girly. We wanted it to still be strong."
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Of the evening-worthy offerings toward the end of the runway presentation, Thornton explains: "We had sequins at the end because we wanted to add a slight organic-ness to all the geometry."
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Preen was chosen as one of Aldo's "Rise" labels, and so the designers were able to collaborate on several pairs of eye-catching footwear. "It was nice to develop everything from the heel to the shoe shape to the strapping," says Thornton. Bregazzi countered: "We came with all these wild ideas -- molded plastic heels and things like that, and they realized them for us."
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