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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Designer Simon Preen

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Simon Preen ,is a designer that prances on the edge of fashion with a fondness for all things dark, mysterious and indefinably glamorous. The London-based designer Simon Preen studied menswear at London College of Fashion.Simon honed his craft working with Pam Hogg on her triumphant return to London Fashion Week , when he also contributed to the ‘House of Blue Eyes’ collective show.

In 2009 Simon secured a deal with International high street store Urban Outfitters inc. to produce a limited capsule of a Womenswear to be sold exclusively at the Oxford St, London store and Online, the sell-out success of which prompted the second and third season.

Preen created his own versions of the bodysuits in bold black and white geometric designs and in black lace finished with contrasting leather power shoulders. Long-sleeve mini dresses, cropped leather jackets and leggings complete his capsule collection, which is all hand made .

merging minimalist Gothic influences with futuristic aesthetics, Preen uses geometric paneling and clean silhouettes to create that neo-goth kind of feel .

Simon is the voice and vision of not only London's youth, but bold, fashion-forward young non-conformists worldwide.


What influenced you as a child and drew you to work in Fashion?
Simon: All my heroes in life are women, and they always have been. I dressed really smart as a child insisting on wearing a shirt and tie at a non uniform school, I was always very aware of my own style right through childhood. I liked to stand out visually even though I was painfully shy.... a strange contradiction even then. I was always going to do something in the arts but it wasn't until I left school that I considered fashion. The moment it popped into my head I knew it was right and from that day forward that's what I've been working on.

You studied in "London College of Fashion" what was that experience like?
Simon: I moved to London to study my degree at LCF and it was the first time I had lived away from my home and family and on top of that it was in London, a place I had dreamed of being all my life. I can't say that I had learned anymore about fashion by the end of my degree than I knew at the start of it, but that was my own doing as I rarely attended classes and when I did I just sat outside smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee and talking about life the whole day. But it was like a right of passage and that 3 years was very important to my life and my growth as a person and the course I studied was the main backdrop to that.  

Obviously your work with Pam Hogg on her triumphant return to London Fashion Week had an influence on you and your designs - to what extent do you feel that influenced your design aesthetic?
Simon: I worked with many different designers after my degree but I learned most from Pam. Her style was a big influence to me as a student but ultimately it was working with her and seeing the way she runs her business with such a small team from that intimate level that gave me the confidence to believe that I could do it myself. She taught me a great deal.

You have contributed with the 'House of Blue Eyes' for a collective show. What was the experience like ?
Simon: It was amazing and it became my first real step towards beginning my own label but I hate being involved in fashion shows personally, I can't handle the nerves, Perhaps its something that I will grow into but for now I prefer the control of a shoot. Im the same with Live music, I’d rather listen to the CD.

How did your collaboration with Urban Outfitters benefit you as a designer?
Simon: It benefited me as a business because it gave me real exposure and it was the first place to actually stock me; and for a first stockist it’s a pretty huge start. To begin with they also gave me a lot of really useful advice and sort of mentored me through the whole process because I was clueless. I had so many mental breakdowns during the production process of that first season but they were really patient and helpful. They probably hated me at the time….haha!

Do you have a specific type of woman in mind when you sit down and you start  sketching ?
Simon: Usually when I designing a collection I have a specific girl in mind that I use as a mental muse, usually someone I’ve seen around who I think is really cool but I don’t actually know and I’m probably stalking on facebook, someone who I’d like to be friends with but that I think is maybe cooler than me. I suppose that’s the shy, uncomfortable schoolboy in me, obsessive and voyeuristic towards the cool girls at school. That kind of intrigue that surrounds the people you admire from afar is always really inspiring. I have a small collection in my head now of girls I can refer to as mental design notes.

What is your perception of how your work has been received by the fashion world?
Simon: Generally really good, I have not seen or heard any negative reviews so far. I think my target customer know who they are and they know that I know who they are, and they understand what I am trying to do. I’m not an arrogant designer, I don’t have complete tunnel vision when it comes to my work, I like to hear what people think, I like input from the people who wear my stuff and I’m really flattered that people want to wear the things I design.

In your newest collection, what are the main aesthetics you are using?
Simon:In all my collections I use the same aesthetics generally, clean lines, graphic cut, minimal gothic, dark glamour; It’s a bold statement, understated. That’s who I am, I think it’s good to have one’s own signature, or at least that’s what works for me. Especially at this early stage of my development it is good I think to have a strong personal identity so that people can recognize my work as a brand

Where do you see yourself  in the future?
Simon:Continuing doing what I’m doing, growing naturally, getting better and better. My AW11 collection has a small section of menswear, which is something I have wanted to do for a long time as I studied menswear. It is essentially the same as the women’s wear but cut for a man. I wear my own stuff all the time and I think that the masculine and feminine influences in my work are really strong. To maintain a strong vision and to maintain a solid relationship with my customer is the most important thing to me, I would be nothing without those elements.





Jessie J is wearing a body suit by Simon Preen 

To read the Italian version, click Intervista a Simon Preen

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