Preen co-designers Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi have been working together for almost fifteen years, over which their aesthetic has evolved from British punk to power dresses. Recently the duo has partnered on a slew of collaborations: first with Savile Row tailors Gieves & Hawkes on blazers and trousers for fall 2010 ("something for the Preen girl to go to work in," says Thornton), then on a jewelry collection with Egypt-based designer Azza Fahmy (a line which'll be available online in September). And now, the pair is setting its sights on a smaller clientele — Mini Preen, a children's line — and working on its spring 2011 collection. We chatted with the designers about kids' fashion, rolling with the velvet trend, and what they're currently coveting (a Jeff Koons balloon-dog sculpture, for one).
You've both expressed interest in designing a children's line. How's it developing?
JT: We're taking our time with it. We have a daughter who's nearly two, and Thea would like to literally do tiny versions of our clothes — like Mini Preen, minus the cocktail dresses.
TB: I want to design really cool, practical, easy pieces. Since having Fauve, I realized there is just not that much great children's wear out there.
What kind of person wears your designs?
JT: When we're designing, we generally think of girls we know — it's kind of the cool, modern girl for every occasion.
TB: It's an amalgamation of our friends, really.
How has the label evolved over the years?
JT: When we first started, we were really into recycling and looking at vintage pieces. Now it's almost like we're cutting up and recycling our own designs. There are pieces that travel with us and are reincarnated each season.
Who are your favorite designers?
JT: My all-time favorite is Geoffrey Beene. I just really like his clean lines and modern approach to fashion.
TB: I love the old greats, like Madeleine Vionnet, Coco Chanel, and Cristobal Balenciaga.
What's the first designer item you ever bought?
JT: I know what Thea's is. She spent her whole student grant — a year's worth of money — on a pair of Vivienne Westwood shoes.
TB: Yes, probably either the prostitute shoes or the mini-crini.
How would you describe your personal style?
JT: It's quite relaxed, a little bit preppy. I wear a lot of Levi's jeans, button-down shirts, and T-shirts. I also have a really sharply tailored jacket that I throw over everything.
What trends are you appreciating right now?
TB: Longer silhouettes feel modern and cool at the moment.
Any trends you're ready to see retired?
JT: As a designer, when you see something you dislike, you challenge yourself to find something to like in it. I'm not crazy about velvet, but that doesn't mean we won't be using it next winter.
TB: I never say never.
What's one item you're saving up to buy?
JT: I would like a Range Rover Sport — it's my dream car. I'm also saving up to buy Thea a Birkin bag, though that may be one of those things she gets when we retire. We'll see what comes first, the car or the Birkin.
TB: A Jeff Koons balloon dog in pink and a Chanel Chocolat watch in black or white.
What should every woman have in her closet?
TB: Great underwear.
JT: A great white shirt; the same goes for men.
What's something you never leave the house without?
JT: At the moment, it's a pair of vintage tortoise shell sunglasses.
TB: My Smythson Portobello diary.