Twenty one years ago when I was living in London, I had the good fortune to be working for a British Fashion designer named Helen Storey. The London fashion scene in 1993 had it’s usual flamboyant flavor and I was privileged to be a part of it. Whilst working between Soho and the King’s Rd Helen Storey boutique, I became friends with Justin Thornton. Justin was designing a line for Helen called Second life, a revamping and redesign of older pieces.
I could tell that there was something special happening, a passion and a creativity that was yet to be unleashed. It was when I met Justin’s wife and fellow creative genius Thea Bregazzi, I was certain that success was just around the corner.
Preen launched in 1996 and their debut collection at London fashion week in 2001 received rave reviews.
Throughout the two decades that I have known Justin and Thea they have remained humble, sincere and as passionate as ever. This rare combination is the driving force behind their continued success.
I hope that you find the following interview as illuminating as I do, a little insight into the creative process at work.
Thank you Preen, my friends.
1. Who are your personal style icons? (aside from Thea, of course)
We see our style icons as a mixture of our friends and people we know. The modern woman. In terms of ‘Fashion Icon’ we do always tend to bring that little bit of ‘Annie Hall’ into our work. Finding the balance between femininity and Masculinity to create something that little bit extra special.
2. You’ve talked about how your daughter has soften your design in the past, what single person or event has had the largest impact on Preen’s aesthetic?
We do feel that the girls (aged 6 and 2) have really influenced us as designers. Children’s toys have been a real influence. The strength of colour, puzzles, bold shapes, the element of graphics found in toys all of which inspires our work, especially print. Having the girls also made us more determine to launch Mini Preen.
3. What is the main difference on how the two of you approach design?
The main difference between how myself and Thea work is that Thea is more literal, she loves researching and sketching her ideas onto paper where as I have a more physical, draping, graphic approach. We both noticed that one key element that links us together is colour. We recently held a dinner in our studio celebrating the launch of our online store (preenbythorntonbregazzi.com) and the newest project we are working on called ‘The Preen Archivists.’ We had a display of our most memorable pieces over the years, and you could really see how we have become more experimental with colour.
4. If you change one thing about your career, what would it be?
Nothing. We are really happy with where we are and what we have achieved in our career.
5. what is the one item of clothing every woman should have in her wardrobe?
An effortless tailored black suit.
6. How would you define success? Do you think you’ve found it yet?
No I don’t think we have found success or we would have given up already. We are always striving to grow and seek more challenges.
7. Finally what tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in design?
Today there are more directions to take in order to ‘make it in fashion.’ I’ve always thought that good impressions last. You never know who will help you along the way. Also schemes such as FashionEast and NEWGEN have helped the greater public aware of young designers entering the industry today. Along with the amazing help the British Fashion Council provides.