I think of myself as a hands-on designer. For me make is integral to my design philosophy. It is crucial how a piece of clothing feels when worn. I've always wanted clothes to be the way I drew them - relaxed and lived in, a natural look. I find men's clothes interesting in their structure, feel and functionality. I started by designing men's clothes, and then found that women wanted them.
I'm inspired by the authenticity I can find in nature, people and places, and I think it is the same quality I look for in the materials I choose. For example, the feel of hand-woven Harris tweed and the irregular slub of Irish linen. I feel passionate about landscape, and its connection with such fabrics and the skilled people who weave them.
I like to work with manufacturers who understand and share this passion for make and quality of fabric: specialists such as John Smedley in fine-gauge knitwear, Mackintosh and their part hand-made raincoats, and the Scottish knitting factories that continue their heritage of producing the best cashmere in the world.
I also find these qualities in other people's work. In 1970 I was encouraged by finding - at a jumble sale - an old, yet finely stitched pinstripe shirt. Today I still find it exciting to hunt out objects I consider to be well-made and enduring. In particular, mid-20th century products such as Anglepoise lamps, Ercol furniture, and Robert Welch stainless steel cutlery, represent the best of our heritage of timeless functional design.
I enjoy pulling these threads of British tradition, quality and skill together in clothes that are meant to be worn in the real world, where good design is about living with thoughtful style.
— MARGARET HOWELL
Collection Sketches 1982
Wigmore Street, London
Place de La Madeleine, Paris
Piazza Carlo Goldoni, Florence
Fine Art Degree, Goldsmiths College.
University of London
Works From Home, Designs, Makes and Sells Accessories1972
Starts making mens shirts to her own designs. Employing one finisher and a part-time cutter1973
As orders increase Margaret sets up a studio and workshop employing ten skilled machinists. Wholesale clients include Ralph Lauren and Paul Smith1977
First Margaret Howell Shop opens in South Molton Street London Wi in association with Josepth Ettedgui1980
Develops range of Womens Clothes
First Wholly-owned Margaret Howell shop opens in St Christophers Place London WI1982
Nominated for Dress of the Year by Grace Coddington, Dress donated to the Museum of Costume, Bath.
Licensed signed with Washo, Tokyo to Manufacture and sell Margaret Howell Designs throughout Japan.1983
First stand alone shop opens in Aoyama, Tokyo1995
Shows at London Fashion week for First time1999
Opens flagship store and cafe in Jinnan, Shibuya, Tokyo2002
Opens flagship store in Wigmore Street, London WI. Housing Design Studio and Retail space for womens and mens collections, accessories and furniture
Begins series of exhibitions promoting work of British designers, such as Eric Lyons (Span Housing), Anglepoise, Robert Welch and Ercol Furniture2006
Opens shop on Fulham Road, London SW32007
Awarded CBE for Services to the Fashion Industry and Royal Designer for industry by the Royal Society of Designers2009
Paris Shop opens at 6 place de la Madeleine, 8th Arrondisement2011
Opens first stand alone MHL shop on Old Nichol Street, London E22013
Opens second stand alone MHL shop on New Cavendish Street, London W12014
Florence shop opens at 5 Piazza Carlo Goldoni
Margaret Howell has seven outlets in the UK and ninety in Japan employing 350 people worldwide