Margaret Howell has always be press shy so it came as no surprise when she didn't come out to take a bow after presenting her menswear collection this morning. Far from being over-exposed like many brands sadly are today, like her clothes Howell is refreshingly subdued and let's them doing the talking.
Today's men's collection was typically Howell. Rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel she delivered an assortment of pragmatic looks that were as appealing for the men in the audience as they were for the women. Fabrics were uber lightweight and therefore perfect for the warmer months and the rolled up sleeves on shirts, simple ribbed knits and midnight blue city shorts encapsulated the brand's no fuss mantra perfectly.
Images by Naomi Mdudu/The Fash Pack and Margaret Howell in-house photographer
For as long as I can remember Margaret Howell has shown her collections at 9am on Sundays and it makes perfect sense. Not many other designers could handle such a tough spot in the schedule and draw in a crowd and that's exactly what Howell did over the weekend.
Too often today designers are ever to conscious about tapping into the current trends or having enough celebrities on the front row of their shows to get a spot in the morning papers. With Howell though, there are no frills, no gimmicks - it's all about the clothes. The charm of her collections lies in their simplicity. As always, the collection was full of great classic knitwear, skirts coming in a modest lengths and simple white button down shirts. A few seasons ago Howell did a beautiful camel shearling coat, which popped up again (much to my delight) this season but in chocolate brown. Amongst these signatures Howell introduced new elements like a keen interest in military details which transpired on the khaki-heavy colour palette and structured double breasted coats that came in shades of grey.
Margaret Howell has quite the empire. Alongside her main line sits MHL, a sister line and this year the brand is set to expand it's presence. Following on from the success of its store in Tokyo back in 2009, the brand have just opened their first European stand alone store. Located in London's Shoreditch, the store is a converted warehouse designed by William Russell.
Copyright on all images: Naomi Mdudu/The Fash Pack
It’s always hard to find a bad thing about the Margaret Howell show. Whilst the brand isn’t necessarily about innovation of pushing fashion forward, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As a fellow journalist said to me after the show, the charm of Howell’s collections is that every single piece can slip into any woman’s wardrobe with ease and the looks she offered up yesterday epitomised that.
As always Howell showed the perfect basic shirt dress but this season it came in royal blue and styled with double wrapped skinny belt. Blue was a colour that popped up throughout the collection as nautical tones like white and blue and flashes of red dominated. The nautical theme also appeared on a look featuring a blue mid length top in blue with a matching skirt teamed with a red and white striped scarf tied around the neck and sailor hats all appeared. Shirts came in white and were as crisp as ever coming teamed with pin striped wide leg trousers and knee length skirts and with single-breasted blazers.
Despite the optimism that we’ve seen this season, reflected in the bright colours, experimental fabrics and dramatic prints, the current economic situation is far from over and Howell is amongst very few designers that have managed to create a business that will thrive and remain true to it’s core whatever the economic situation.
Wearbility is often deemed the kiss of death by designer standpoints, but in the current economic climate, designers are quickly beginning to realise that creating an accessible and wearable collection cannot hurt. Margaret Howell is a great example of that idea working. Each season, any piece of her collection can easily fit into any wardrobe, and she continues to create simple pieces that we all want to wear.
Polo dresses came in royal blue and belted, teamed under tweed blazers, and styled with hats that featured throughout in navy and neutral shades. Single-breasted winter coats came with velvet turn-up trousers and flat shoes, and dark leather coats came with fur collars styled with over-the-knee skirts in navy and a simple plaid shirt. I loved a thick cable-knit jumper that nipped in at the waist with a thick brown belt and matched with a sheer navy skirt. A burgundy corduroy skirt, teamed with a white shirt, brown jumper and navy jacket just worked.
Margaret Howell and Colin McDowell have undoubtedly made a considerable contribution to fashion, particularly in London, and now their achievements are being recognised. This Friday the University of the Arts London will honour the pair in the Royal Festival Hall alongside the university's graduation ceremony.
Both will become Honorary Doctors for their outstanding contribution to fashion adding them to the likes of Alexander McQueen, Mario Testino, John Galliano and Giorgio Armani who have also been given the same award.
It was a full house this morning at Magaret Howell and for good reason. The designer served us with all of the wardrobe essentials for fall. Models were sent down the runway in big camel duffle coats and heavy wool fabrics that will make sure to help you fight the horrible winter weather.
The models were all layered up. Cream cableknit jumpers were layered over shirt dresses in white and baby blue. Grey knit cardigans were styled with big scarves and cropped cords. Heavy wool knit jackets appeared in royal blue and greys and came belted up, ranging in length from thigh-skimming versions to calf-grazing styles. Tartan, high-waisted skirts helped break up the colour palette and were teamed with black cashmere polar-necks jumpers.
Outerwear was a strong feature of the collection and seems definitely worth investing in. For full-on winter weather, Howell offered heavy wool coats in grey and gave us trench coats and a parka jacket, made feminine with a red belt, for the warmer winter months.