Margaret Howell loves beautiful things. More specifically, she loves beautifully made things, and it shows in her designs. One of the most enduring names in fashion, Howell has spent her more than forty years in business refining her signature style: casual simplicity and utility melding seamlessly with high-quality heritage materials and the utmost in craftsmanship.
“I get a thrill if I see something that’s beautifully crafted or very well-made,” Howell recently told us. “The way something is made is all part of what it is. I began trying to make something that was more in line with what I actually wanted to use or wear, moving on and forward from what had already been done.”
Having grown up with frequent visits to the English countryside, the British designer loves to draw from the traditional elements she saw there, but to update them for today’s man. “I like a piece of clothing to have a reference—that it’s come from something quite classic and lasting—but then interpreted in a slightly different, fresh, or more modern way. One first needs a good concept, and then to get that concept into the piece of clothing. What I like doing is taking traditional country elements but putting a slightly urban spin on them—adapting them to be worn in the city.”
Anything from a cardigan to a turtleneck can begin to feel eminently modern and inspiring once Howell puts her spin on it, a trait she attributes largely to her fabric selections. “It always starts with choosing fabrics,” she says. “Whether it’s a beautiful cashmere or a nice, tough cotton, it’s always the quality of fabric matched to the right piece that is so very important. It can give a garment character.”
And character is something that emanates not only from Howell’s creations, but also from the spaces she curates. Her stand-alone stores have become known for exhibiting the same honed and refined aesthetic that Howell strives to achieve in her collections, and additionally offer a variety of homewares like furniture, dishes, and throws. “It’s a true lifestyle brand because all the sorts of things I value or have interest in seem to feed back in,” Howell says. “In the beginning, these elements just went into the clothes, but as the business has expanded, it’s grown to include a general interest in art, design, and modernism.”
Scroll on for an inside look at Howell’s Paris shop and showroom to see how her minimalist and elevated eye applies itself to both her design process and her workspace. After taking in more of the crisp, clean space, head to Barneys to see for yourself how this same authenticity and attention to detail are reflected in the pieces she creates.