Margaret Howell is a traditionally elegant affair; the clean and crisp white lines of her Southbank showspace is nearly always a reflection of her collection. The crowd was the usual sea of navy – an abundance of well-dressed women – the atmosphere calm. On a lazy Sunday morning there was not a fashion week peacock in sight.
Back to School
The ‘back to school’ vibe was fitting for an AW collection, and aside from Howell’s trademark silhouettes, cutesy, elementary accents were thrown in, cementing this feeling. Clip-on bows were worn over knitted or cotton velvet dresses, clip-on collars were worn over basic knitwear, or both were worn together over a knitted sweater vest – need we say more. Cross-body leather satchels accompanied unisex shearling lined duffle coats. There were boyish brogues or girlish, lattice-strap, ballet flats. Plaid shirts and skirts in a mustardy hue were appropriate, but in a mid-length, un-fitted, pencil style, the skirt looked more stuffy headmistress than stylish schoolgirl.
Back to Basics
Howell adhered unapologetically to her long-loved aesthetic for AW16, but some low-risk twists were dotted amidst the basics. Crisp white collars peaked out from behind navy and grey knitwear, but this time larger, sharper and in general more retro. Paper bag waists still reigned, but not only on peg-leg numbers: Howell threw some baggier trouser shapes, cropped to the knee and turned up. Androgyny was a running theme, the majority of looks being wearable for both men and women. Clever instances of this were the bang-on-trend pinstripe suits in a beautiful fuzzy flannel. The suit trousers came in a longer, tapered, waisted fits, a looser version, or full-on short and cropped. The blazer came fitted and feminine, or in a boxy hip-length. Colours were appropriately muted and autumnal compared with last season’s pillarbox reds. A few dulled metallics were thrown in, woven into wool suits in midnight blue or forest green. The raw silk, olive green, pleated midi-skirt was a more grown up, less 80s version, of the lamé, accordion styles that graced 2015.