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Designers want us to know that puffer coats and slippers are here to stay

It would be easy – and much more cost effective, not to mention sustainable – to cancel fashion weeks entirely and replace them with one big look book from every brand. But aside from being no fun at all, doing so would miss the point in the bi-annual shows entirely. Less about the items soon to be on sale, fashion week is about the designer’s vision, the mood and spirit of the brand and a conversation of how that mood will change in the seasons to come. The shows immerse buyers, press, influencers (and now, Tik Tok stars – many of whom appeared on several front row seats), in the brand’s vision, through the spectacle of a runway.

For autumn/winter 2022, some designers have taken an optimistic outlook, casting off the drab loungewear of the pandemic and replacing it with glitz, glam and joie de vivre. Others stepped forward with caution, mindful of the items most of us are likely to want to cling onto next winter, like sportswear influences, cocooning layers and snug but stylish comfort wear.

That is where Serbian designer Roksanda Ilincic landed, as she infused her usual striking eveningwear with sporty influences, embracing our collective desire to seek shelter and protection through puffer coats, utilitarian detailing and bold, voluminous silhouettes.

The puffers are part of a collaboration between Roksanda and activewear brand Fila, that sees Roksanda inject couture detailing into sportswear items from bags to tops, jackets and trousers. Unsurprisingly, these were no ordinary puffer jackets, but deconstructed high-fashion statement pieces to weather the storm in style. “In times of delicate humanity, women seek new armour to shelter and find refuge in,” read the accompanying show notes.

Elsewhere in the collection, parachute-silk dresses in Roksanda’s signature prints billowed as models walked and capes danced and flowed through the air. Sporty infusions could also be seen through straps, wraps and ties that pulled in pieces at waists and around necklines.

(Reuters)

Utilitarian details took the softness off flowing silk looks with topstitch pockets and strong tailoring that played with details like double lapels, side slits and quilted sleeves.

A colour palette with a base of neutrals including camel, brown and monochrome was shot through with acid yellow, lime green, neon orange and electric pink in graphic printing, geometric shapes and through layering – with camel jumpsuits worn over neon polo necks. Several items of the collection were worn by stars on the front row (Naomi Harris among them), a reminder that the fashion show is no longer a first look but a stage and a performance.

It was a powerful collection made stronger by Roksanda’s continued skill of fabrication, combining silk taffetas, silk satins, cottons and polyester using a masterful combination of draping, tying and tailoring to create bold silhouettes, for which she is so well known. The collection represented a celebratory but cautious emergence from our collective hibernation. As the show notes said, it was a “thematic continuity of sheltering, unapologetic femininity clashing with powerful undertones.”

For Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, who lured the fashion set to iconic gay nightclub Heaven in Charring Cross for their collection, pandemic-influences were seen also in puffer and oversize bomber jackets, but most notably in gloriously fluffy sheepskin slippers.

The brand, founded by husband-and-wife duo Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, is known for looks that fuse punk with vintage references and embrace a bold combination of floral motifs with modern graphics. In its over 20 years of existence, Preen has become a mainstay on red carpets – seen on the likes of Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Scarlett Johannson – and in politics, with Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron opting for their more elegant designs.

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi AW22

(Getty)

This season, in celebration of the return to the full return of in person fashion week, Preen presented a choreographed dance performance. Aside from the sheer chaos of trying to fit the over-subscribed guestlist onto a paltry number of chairs (and the enjoyment of seeing the press team desperately trying to squeeze everyone in), the underground club setting was a fitting location for a collection that echoed the gritty indie sleaze revival.

Preen played with various elements of construction, from ruching to de-construction, ties, cut outs, tiers and pleating which resulted in a mood of grungy Victoriana. Hair and beauty included nymph-like hairstyles and bold eye makeup that contributed to an overall feel of Midsummer Night’s Dream fairies immersed in another world as the dancers modelling the collection dipped, dived and lifted one another up.

Indie elements came out through patchwork tartan mini kilts, harlequin print mohair cardigans and tiered lace. The puffers and bombers, as well as oversize blazers brought the looks a contemporary feel, and gender-fluid styling showed Preen maintains their edge as a brand in tune with the zeitgeist.



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