Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi had evidently been flicking through many a back-issue of Vogue Italia circa 1984 in preparation for their Autumn/Winter Preen collection. How else to explain curvilinear quarterback shoulders, slouchy tailoring and textured wools in a palette of burnt-out pastels and black? Think of those eighties Itae stalwarts - Complice, Genny and Basile - and their ghosts prowled the Preen catwalk, with shades of Romeo Gigli in curving mid-calf cocoon coats and twisted and swathed layers of knit. These references to Italy's eighties finest are appropriate as this was undoubtedly one of Preen's more polished outings. After last season's excursion into negligee dressing - and a few drippy floral frocks to open this show - a ferocious return to tailoring was on the cards, and with curling lapels, razor-sharp seams and severe Working Girl suiting, this collection delivered. Nix the 'Working Girl' reference, actually, and replace that with Woman, as Preen's femininity was self-assured and mature, predator rather than prey. That was made apparent in a couple of hefty references to Monsieurs Mugler and Montana - namely when they got busy draping black lamÃƒÂ© and over-accessorising with hefty jewellery courtesy of Azza Fahmy. Bras were centre-front, sliced out of bustier dresses, strapped over shirts and suspending slashed panels of drapery. Granted, those flap-festooned little frocks are beginning to look old-hat, and at times there were a few too many GruyÃƒÂ¨re cheese cut-outs for comfort (literally come next winter). These were still tricked out for the label's fans, and presumably as red-carpet fodder, but it was the tailoring that looked interesting - whether slouchy and relaxed in basic grey flannel, or cinched and sculpted in textured wools. The sheer size of those shoulders spoke undoubtedly of aggression, but Thornton and Bregazzi played with texture and their signature draping to ensure the line stayed soft and seductive. The language wasn't anything new, frankly, but Preen's voice was unique enough to make their message distinct and compelling.
These references to Italy's eighties finest are appropriate as this was undoubtedly one of Preen's more polished outings.