Preen’s Haenyeo eco-warrior women
This is why fashionistas come to London: to see inventive experimental fashion. Which is what the latest show from Preen was; a great eco-warrior collection that was alternatively gutsy, girly and quite often great.
Inspired by the Haenyeo, Korean fisherwomen who dive deep into the East China Sea for abalone, conches, crustaceans and shells, the collection was a marvelous series of phantasmagorical images, though with just the right dose of cool commercial clothes.
Staged on a sunny Sunday morning inside Topshop’s show-space in Covent Garden, and backed up by a rousing soundtrack and a great casting, this was a proper London fashion moment.
The Sea Women’s neoprene dive suits were reflected in the sporty neoprene coats that opened the show; even plissé silk cocktails had neoprene sleeves. While the footwear and weekend totes were covered in goat hair that looked like seaweed. The Preen duo of Thea Bregazzi and Justin Thornton cut with gusto, showing off-the-shoulder gowns, cut with side panels or one-shoulder cocktails embroidered with sequins that looked like large cockles.
“Some of the Sea Women are in their 80s, and they are just such beautiful characters. We loved the way they decorated their wet suits and layered them with real blouses. We wanted to capture that,” said Bregazzi, explaining that the duo had caught an exhibition on the Haenyeo in the Maritime Museum last year.
The Sea Women women are the main breadwinners on Jeju island, the most southern island in Korea. And the Preen pair captured that sense of strength and quirky individual style.
“We wanted something organic for these eco feminists. We wanted to celebrate a matriarchal society. Because men are not doing a very good job taking care of the world, are they?” said Thornton.
The duo accelerated two gears half way through with some stupendous dresses in a dense tropical floral print before a truly bravura finale. Some ten multi-fabric ecru evening dresses in layers of tulle, sequins and silk, cut on the bias and finished with dense patches of actual seashells, and hints of octopus and sea creatures.
Epic stuff; and, once again, why true fashion visionaries will always have to come to London.
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