Dear Shaded Viewers and Diane,
It might have been an overcast morning on the Southbank, right after a Saturday night of overlapping parties, but that a Margaret Howell show attracts a different crowd, it’s something we’re used to by now. Keen on comfort more as a life choice than hangover cure, her guests are bespectacled and soft-spoken, unswayed by drama, and Asian in greater percentage than elsewhere – this likely due to the devout following the brand has gathered and consistently pleased since it started exporting in Japan in the 1980s. They're the customers that Margaret had pegged, in a recent interview with Vestoj, as “people comfortable with knowing, rather than showing, the quality of their clothes”. For fall 2016, these are once more designed with the purpose of perpetual wearing: there are skirts with elevated paper-bag waistline, and the pleated pants that after several seasons of inexplicable reluctance, have earned back their place in many menswear wardrobes for 2016. Menswear, because that's where many of Margaret's ideas come from, as well as nostalgia – boxy and cropped just below the knee, these trousers could fit any of the boys in any of Terence Davies' early films. There's tenderness in the details, berets, bow ties, pussy bow blouses. But even when wistful the collection is never indulgent, and each piece is sensible, as modest as the offer is rich. Fresh-faced, short-haired girls wear wingtips or velveteen ballerinas, checks and pinstripes, dark green and grey wools, shirt dresses or layered knits. Seasonal must-have, a black on black shearling coat stands out, as does a luscious deep burgundy velvet. Usually a more excitable combo, Margaret is still able to fit the fabric seamlessly into her own relaxed, candid aesthetic. How and when to wear it though, and that is perhaps the kind of freedom her fans value the most, remains up to them. Occasionally, some have done so unexpectedly, to legendary results: remember Jack Nicholson's burgundy corduroy jacket in The Shining? Precisely. They're the kind of garments that become part of your story.