The enduring fashion philosophy of Margaret Howell has always been central to the brand's success and appeal. This year, the British brand celebrates 50 years in design, from postwar austerity and men's shirt for women, to becoming a British national treasure.
Howell was born immediately after the war, in 1946, a fact that seems crucial to her aesthetic. As a teen making her own clothes, she was drawn to the understatement of Jean Muir. To the trouser suits of Yves Saint Laurent. “I loved the way that Katharine Hepburn wore men’s trousers,” she says, “or what seemed to be men’s trousers.”
The abiding satisfaction in her garments comes from heritage and history - a memory of the worn gabardine coat that her army captain father gardened in, a corduroy jacket that recalls the style of a geography teacher at her school - sensory elements which remain the cornerstones of her collections.
Howell was sustainable decades before sustainability became a catwalk mantra. “We were a family that always darned socks,” she says. “As a rule I keep things I like until they wear out. I have had a cotton-linen towel, which is lovely after an open-air swim – and which they don’t really make any more. It is totally worn out, but I still use it. I don’t like having too many things.” That less-is-more philosophy seems woven into her clothes as well as her life.
* FUN FACT * The corduroy jacket Jack Nicholson wears in the Shining is in fact a Margaret Howell original. He picked it up from legendary Los Angeles store Maxfield, and insisted on wearing in the movie - prompting Stanley Kubrick to put in an order for 12 more.
Just arrived from England, we invite you to explore the pieces we have chosen for men and women from the new MHL by Margaret Howell AW20 collection, in store and online now.