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 - and 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 1977

Collection Sketches 1982

Jinnan, Tokyo

Wigmore Street, London

Place de La Madeleine, Paris

Piazza Carlo Goldoni, Florence

1969

Fine Art Degree, Goldsmiths College.
University of London

1970

Works From Home, Designs, Makes and Sells Accessories

1972

Starts making mens shirts to her own designs. Employing one finisher and a part-time cutter

1973

As orders increase Margaret sets up a studio and workshop employing ten skilled machinists. Wholesale clients include Ralph Lauren and Paul Smith

1977

First Margaret Howell Shop opens in South Molton Street London Wi in association with Josepth Ettedgui

1980

Develops range of Womens Clothes

First Wholly-owned Margaret Howell shop opens in St Christophers Place London WI

1982

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, Tokyo

1995

Shows at London Fashion week for First time

1999

Opens flagship store and cafe in Jinnan, Shibuya, Tokyo

2002

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 Furniture

2006

Opens shop on Fulham Road, London SW3

2007

Awarded CBE for Services to the Fashion Industry and Royal Designer for industry by the Royal Society of Designers

2009

Paris Shop opens at 6 place de la Madeleine, 8th Arrondisement

2011

Opens first stand alone MHL shop on Old Nichol Street, London E2

2013

Opens second stand alone MHL shop on New Cavendish Street, London W1

2014

Florence shop opens at 5 Piazza Carlo Goldoni

Margaret Howell has seven outlets in the UK and ninety in Japan employing 350 people worldwide