by Sarah Mower
It’s only natural that British designers should be having their say about punk this season—after all, the world’s most enduring street style was born on the King’s Road, London, circa 1976. Nothing in the Preen show this morning could’ve been worn at that time, which is a good thing: What would be the point of a crass, literal throwback, at a point in history when the original punks are now moms in their fifties? Still, what Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi did today was what you might call “evolved punk,” a collection that dealt with many of the punk symbols that have been subsumed into fashion over decades—black and red, zippers and studs, tartan and leopard spot, mohair and argyle. Their accomplishment is to splice it all into a continuation of the modern wardrobe they develop, season by season. Their signature devices, dresses paneled with one fabric at the front and another at the back, and double-hemlined skirts (this time layered and split at the front to reveal an underskirt) are all present and correct.
But let’s jump to the best bit: A finale embellished with jewels laid out in a trellis pattern on dresses, and a long slim skirt matched with a mohair sweater. But what, you may ask, is the punk reference there? Justin Thornton explained backstage that he and Thea Bregazzi had been watching Derek Jarman’s 1978 film Jubilee, which at one point has Elizabeth I visiting the punk-stormed realm of Elizabeth II. So the floral-jeweled pattern idea sprang from Gloriana’s richly embroidered farthingale. Do we need to know this? Not especially. But it could be a handy piece of knowledge to drop into dinner conversation at the Costume Institute Gala in May, where any of these pieces would look just great.