It was a tight squeeze for guests in Margaret Howell’s store on Wigmore Street, Marylebone. The glass roof flooded the space with light, illuminating Howell’s trademark plain white settings. It also created a greenhouse effect, and whether it was the humidity or the pouring rain outside, a few droplets of water escaped from the roof and sporadically dripped on to the catwalk. As models came out in fisherman style, gore tex hats, the surroundings offset the concept excellently; The reality of British summer was manifested in Howell’s Spring/Summer 2017 men’s collection and fed seamlessly into the very ‘English’ DNA of the brand.
This representation of summer allowed for a generous mix of textures and fibres in varying weights. Jumpers were in a rough and chunky cotton knit or classically crew neck and paper-thin in lightweight wool. There were slim-fit, knitted t-shirts, sweater vests and chunky, ribbed, button-down cardigans – alluding to fifties Americana at the same time as English school boy. Linen was used to great effect, in a button-down, window-pane-check shirt, in breezy black or white tank tops, or in a deliciously crisp navy tee, tucked into matching gauzy, elasticated waist shorts.
How Howell Does Things
A Margaret Howell collection promises the very best of basics: a trademark colour palette of navy and white maybe stretching to a few other colours, and always a navy blazer and trousers. In an industry so fickle, it is Howell’s commitment to a specific aesthetic that maintains such a loyal following. However, accents of change are always present, but in the tiniest of details. This season, trousers went super high waist – unusual until recently in menswear – balancing the pleats in a voluminous trouser leg, and classic turn-ups were just that little bit deeper. The funnel neck details in knitwear was noticeable, especially in the raw edges of the mustard jumper, which only added to its beachy look. As always, a schoolboy tie and shirt look was present, but this time the excess tie was tucked into the trousers to show off a contrasting colouring to the front. Howell has hit the nail on the head, producing, season after season, timeless menswear that is truly wearable.