Margaret Howell's military touches at London Fashion Week AW 2012
Margaret Howell's show is always a joy to attend, away from the hubbub of Somerset House at her Wigmore Street store. The 9am start weeds out any blaggers or showponies and everyone is a little more relaxed and rough around the edges. Mussed up hair, topknots and flats were the order of the day as the fash-pack piled in to catch the show.
Howell doesn't pull out any gimmicks or surprises, but instead refines and redefines her classic English aesthetic with every season and it obviously works. A front row featuring Hilary Alexander, Grazia's Paula Reed, Imogen Fox from the Guardian and Gentlewoman's Penny Martin confirm Howell as a big-hitter. Indeed now that nearly every brand is wearing their 'heritage' status on their sleeve this is one designers who is the real deal.
The collection kicked off with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes 'Home' remixed as jaunty a whistling march, conjuring up soldiers, little boys off to boarding school and wartime evacuees, perfect for the military-inpsired looks that streamed onto the catwalk.
Vintage-style boiled wool belted trenches were topped off with Tam o' Shanters, their pompoms bobbing to the music.
The palette was much more subdued than in previous shows, fitting the military theme. On the whole it was a sea of khaki, navy, charcoal and black with flashes of bright white, royal blue and forest green punctutating the neutral tones. A few Fairisle knits provided pattern and silky fabrics added textural interest.
The Margaret Howell girl this season feels very outdoorsy; carefree side ponytails and fresh-faced makeup complemented the simple shapes and pared-down colours.
More military inspiration came in the form of cute little navy dresses with a scholarly feel. Pleated checked skirts and neat fitted jumpers threw a bit of a Balmoral vibe into the mix, all that was missing was a corgi and a headscarf to complete the Royal overtones.
The outerwear was a real highlight, Howell's duffel coats, sheepskin jackets, leather bombers and blazers are all highly covetable pieces that can easily be translated into any wardrobe. Celeb Margaret Howell fan Alexa Chung was absent this season, but the jackets were pure Alexa-at-Glasto.
Fashion has had a bit of a love affair with a very French, classic design aesthetic of late, but Howell's show proves that us Brits have as much chic in our DNA as our Gallic neighbours.