by Alexander Fury .


Ever seen the sixties Spaghetti western Shalako? I haven't, but by the look of the latest Preen pre-collection, I need to add it to my 'must-see' list. For not-quite-next-season, Justin Thornton and Thea Bragazzi were inspired by the sight of a bustled and broiderie anglaise'd Bridget Bardot amidst a few dozen rednecks, and set about capturing the same mix of delicacy and roughness. Think delicate whitework embroideries, intricate ruffles of cotton lace and plenty of touch-buckled leather belts to toughen up even the sweetest of little chiffon frocks. Cowboys may have been the fodder, but (luckily) they were only vaguely alluded to: there was a touch of the saloon to a swirly floor-length skirt in pleated chiffon, but it was clean and modern enough not to look costume-y. The same silhouette was the collection's bestseller, in an ankle-length sheath of ribbed jersey with bound bodice. And the duo's trademark 'Power' dress got a new lease of life as a swingy, thigh-high crinoline. Think Dietrich high-kicking in Destry Rides Again, and you get the picture. Preen have been at the pre-collection game for two years now, and recognise the incredible importance of this brave new season. Alongside the new was the old, in reworkings of trademark twisty-turny Preen frocks and pieces combining utility and luxury (bleached-out vests with chantilly-lace trims, for example). There was even a detail culled from the second ever Preen show, a print of a bird's skeleton- in this instance re-imagined as a bugle-beaded appliqué inspired by petrified carcasses littering the Nevada desert.