Although I missed all of London Fashion Week due to a very sad family loss, I have been searching out the shows I desperately wanted to see in the few spare moments I've had online.
Among them was Margaret Howell. Not a headline grabber. Not showy and flashy and most certainly not 'of the moment', Howell has always operated according to her own rules, turning out beautifully cut and refreshingly modest clothes that are easy to wear and make you feel good in your own skin. These are clothes that can be worn sans make-up on a miserable day and still make you look quietly confident and a little insouciant without even trying.
I currently own three Margaret Howell pieces - the perfect breton stripe boxy t-shirt which was an ebay bargain; a mannish blue wide pin stripe shirt found in one of the pricier charity shops in South Kensington; and one of the most expensive items I've ever bought, a below the knee, black cotton full skirt with incredibly big deep pockets on the hip. The skirt, bought last year at a sample sale just off South Molton Street, has become a cornerstone of my wardrobe - a piece I fall back on in difficult times when putting an outfit together seems like a chore rather than something to look forward to but also something I love to wear that feels like me and is suitable for almost every occasion. Plus it has those pockets. I love pockets. Pieces by Howell are that most elusive of things - timeless.
Plus Howell herself is refreshingly down to earth. Here's an excerpt from an interview with The Telegraph last year;
"Loved as she is, Howell is in many ways the antithesis of fashion. How does she fit in? 'I don’t,’ she says simply. 'We do a fashion show in the shop. It’s sort of all right, though I must say that whole week is an interruption of work.
"To me it is such a lot of time spent on certain areas like hair and make-up…
"I’m better out of the way, really.’
"On the day we meet, before my arrival, she has taken her car to be serviced and read a magazine article in the waiting-room about Anna Wintour, the whip-thin, dark-glassed editor of American Vogue. 'Anna Wintour and all that; that’s real fashion, isn’t it? That’s the world. It’s like when they all come to the show and chit and chat and drop all the names – I don’t know any of them – and “Have you got the right bag?” It’s certainly a clique and you feel outside if you are not in it.’ And do you? 'Yes, I do feel outside.’ Do you mind? She looks thoughtful, fiddles her crystal buttons. Then she smiles, 'Not in the least.’"I am, obviously, a Howell fan and on the strength of the collection she presented at London Fashion Week for Autumn 2010 I can practically guarantee I will remain so for an exceedingly long time. Am particularly enamoured of the pop of red in the final few looks, which was totally unexpected in amongst the palette of soft greys, blacks, browns and blues... Excuse the ridiculous number of images but I am obsessed.
(images via Elleuk.com)
Today I am wearing a Howell tribute outfit, built around the black skirt with a cropped, short sleeved slate grey cashmere jumper layered over a tucked in grey and black check shirt done up all the way, black tights and crisp white lace-up plimsoles with a vinatge 80's big satin black bow hair clip for a bit of softness.