Cereal: Margaret Howell
Stepping into Margaret Howell’s London flagship store on Wigmore Street is akin to entering the calm of a cathedral. The space – buttery wooden floors, soft white walls, and a cluster of skylights, which, even on a grey day, bring a brightness to the place – was collaboratively designed with architect William Russell, and became the brand’s nerve centre in 2002. Through a side door is the workshop, lively in the lead up to fashion week, and in the corner, nestled by a window and surrounded by books, sits Howell herself, sketching quietly.
Margaret Howell’s brand is a cathedral of sorts. Founded in the early 1970s, it began with Howell’s signature men’s shirts, inspired by “a beautifully made, very soft” shirt in 1920s pinstripe she found at a jumble sale. She opened her first store in association with Joseph Ettedgui on London’s South Molton Street in 1976, and upon realising women were regularly buying men’s clothes for themselves, expanded into womenswear in the early 1980s.
Today, as well as clothing, the brand offers a collection of curated accessories, books, and UK designed homewares and furniture. The term ‘lifestyle’ is applied with abandon these days, but what Howell has created is just that: a collection of pieces to live your life with, rather than pieces with a life of their own.
Renowned for her simple classics in the finest fabrics – the Ventile raincoat, the tailored Irish linen trousers, the perennial knitwear, the men’s shirt – Howell, notorious for her attention to detail, has created what she calls “a progression of clothes,” united in their functionality, beauty, timelessness, and, above all, honesty.