AUSTERITY MEASURES: MARGARET HOWELL

Since the 1970s Margaret Howell has borne witness to a plethora of trends, fads and where-are-they-nows generously generated by the British fashion industry. Meanwhile she remained resolute in her commitment to all things reasonable: white shirts, pants with a pleat, argyle sweaters. Sure, sky is never a limit when it comes to imaginative practices, yet one has to contend that as some point, some things reach a level of functional precision and aesthetic flawlessness that no longer requires innovation, per se. Howell staples are contentedly there.

 

 

Turtlenecks reign supreme. Coats appear tailored as if bespoke. Trousers (after all, they’re British, darling) sit with enviable ease, leg perhaps just a contemporary inch too short of being labeled classic. Black, gray, brown, beige: not a daring shade in the main collection palette, nor there should be. A mustard colored pair of socks here, a lilac hued scarf there, a two tone gym bag. This is a master class in color accents where informed restraint comes across as the freest expression of creative freedom.

 

 

Here is another thing about Margaret Howell… For all the tried-and-true ethos of her namesake brand, it nevertheless keeps its commercial hand on the proverbial pulse of the trends. Following Hermes, which gambled to bring jumpsuits back onto the luxury runways a little while ago, this season Howell offers minimalist overalls to her risk adverse base. It’s this kind of attention to the ebb and flow of fashion without splashing or headlong dives that landed Howell a commission to design the Victoria & Albert Museum staff uniforms back in 2006. Casual clothing still proves to be an art form.

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