In the early Seventies a young Margaret Howell found a shirt at a jumble sale. It was this fine, well-tailored shirt which sparked the initial inspiration to make men’s shirts of her own (after having designed bracelets and chokers for Browns the years before). At that time, the shirts – of Jermyn Street quality but with a more relaxed line – were made by Howell herself, and after demand grew by a group of machinists in a workshop she set up in 1973. At that point Howell’s designs attracted a new influential generation of American buyers, including Tommy Perse, of concept store Maxfield’s; Ralph Lauren, who at that time also sold other brands; and also British names like Paul Smith; Browns and most importantly Joseph Ettedgui (of Joseph) who subsequently launched Howell as a clothing brand. More than 30 years on and Margaret Howell heads one of the most inspiring companies worldwide. But, despite the size of her current operation, the designer’s approach has remained just the same over all these years, making her for us an often overlooked, but undeniable, visionary icon of modern fashion.
Two years ago The Independent interviewed the visionary designer which continues to be a super inspirational point of reference for our own operations, hoping one day to succeed in a similar understated approach in creating and communicating a clear vision:
You won’t find Margaret Howell quoted on the burning fashion issues of the day, either: who will be designing what for who and when is of no interest to her. Instead, she says: ‘I suppose I’m just getting on making clothes for people to wear. That’s the most important thing.’
For the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, released last month, the talented British photographer Alasdair McLellan follows up his quietly beautiful Spring/Summer 2015 campaign with an equally elegant set of images for the coming colder months of the year. Sticking to his signature black and white, classic Howell silhouettes are set against the atmospheric backdrops of both the South Downs and Devil’s Dyke in East Sussex, England. Styled by Beat Bolliger, the collection shows the classic Howell pieces in their current seasonal forms; from chunky knits, heavyweight tweed overcoats, sheepskin gilets to immaculate Mackintosh outerwear.
There may be more to a Margaret Howell collection than there once was: that is a requirement if only for commercial reasons. Her label’s heart, though, lies in the classic garments that can be worn and loved for a lifetime and that come, each season, maybe re-colored or cut in a different weight of fabric.
For the whole interview by The Independent see here.
Keep track and buy the work of Margaret Howell online here.