Margaret Howell Fall 2024 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Margaret Howell is allergic to branding, so it was a surprise to see a monogram sneak its way into her fall collection. That said, it was more of a cipher than a logo, comprising a tiny ‘MH’ written in her own hand and stitched on the pocket of a vegetable-dyed shirt. The brand’s head of menswear, Ioannis Cholidis, had persuaded Howell to experiment after having discovered a similarly adorned pocket on a pair of raspberry silk pajamas in the archive. It took several goes to get the handwriting correct. “It is odd when you’re consciously writing, something always goes awry,” said Howell during an appointment in Paris. “When I was a child, we used to have transfers that you ironed onto the fabric and then embroidered on top. Now that is a long time ago.”

The venerable British label also has a new managing director, Caroline Attwood, who takes the baton from Richard Craig, a company veteran who steered the ship for 34 years and has now retired. Most recently CEO of handbag label Ally Capellino, another resolutely unshouty British brand, Attwood’s CV merges product nous and commercial stripes, with spells at Mulberry and Anya Hindmarch. Having joined in November 2023, she’s still in full immersion mode, from exploring the basement beneath the Wigmore Street store in London (“there are some beautiful pieces of furniture being stored down there!”) to meeting key partners in Japan, where she travels next month. Where does she see key opportunities for this much-loved brand? “It’s early days but I think there are lots, from stores in different markets, thinking about developing collections for wholesale, the homeware side, and behind-the-scenes in terms of infrastructure and setting things up for the future. For me, it’s the dream job,” she said.

If things are changing at the top, it was reassuring to see that only the tiniest tweaks have been made to the collection. The headlines: trousers were a little slouchier for fall, with a baggy leg and hems that pool at the ankle rather than turn up; meanwhile waists were a touch more defined, with waxed-cotton raincoats cinched with leather belts, for instance. Elsewhere the collection was a ramble through the practical, pleasingly polished line-up of wardrobe heroes MH fans know and love. Some favorites: a reversible shearling waistcoat, made in London, and surprisingly lightweight; a British wool cropped bomber jacket from the MHL line; a pair of long corduroy shorts adapted from the archive to give the impression of a chic French culotte; a super-chunky cotton-cashmere scarf; a peaked-lapel narrow black blazer in British barathea. Oh, and that blue-gray shirt signed MH—a relaxed button-up with IYKYK flair.

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