The fashion designer par excellence, Margaret Howell was born in Surrey, England on September 5, 1946. The multi talented Margaret has established her name in the fashion industry with her contemporary chic designs using classic fabrics like tweed, poplin and twill for both men and women. The veteran fashion designer has managed to stay in the ever demanding fashion industry for more than four decades; all thanks to the her excellent designing and detailing skills.
Margaret’s career began when she turned down the job to work in BBC’s makeup department and started designing accessories. Her handmade beads impressed the Vogue and soon Howell got a chance to meet the violet eyed goddess Elizabeth Taylor who was shooting for the movie Zee and Co. in London at the time. Howell became successful overnight with the launch of her first label in 1972 in South East London. That same year, she teamed up with her husband Paul Renshaw and started designing and selling shirts from their place in Blackheath. With the encouragement of Paul Smith, the brand grew exponentially and made its way into the American retail stores like Jasmin Ram. The year 1976 marked the opening of Margaret Howell’s first menswear store in London’s South Molton Street with Joseph Ettedgui as partner. With the success of her menswear store, Margaret opened her self- financed store in 1980 at St. Christopher’s place.
The label experienced growing pains in the early 1980s. Margaret’s creations caught public attention when Jack Nicholson insisted on wearing his Margaret Howell corduroy jacket in the movie ‘Shining’ followed by Stanley Kubrick’s order of twelve duplicates. In 1982, Howell’s creation was named the ‘Dress of the Year’ by Grace Coddington. In the next two years, The Margaret Howell label went international with her first shop in Manhattan and a standalone store in Aoyama at Tokyo. However, the expansion did not prove to be fruitful for Howell and gave rise to difficulties in her business as well as personal life. The husband wife designer duo parted ways in 1987 which resulted in Renshaw’s withdrawal from the company. The company was reorganized in 1990 with the help of Sam Sugure and Richard Craig who remains the company’s Managing Director till date. The new management helped the company reach new heights of success. Margaret Howell stores sprang up on the Wigmore Street in 2002 and Paris in 2009. Today, Margaret Howell Ltd. has established itself in the corporate world and provides jobs to three hundred people in almost eighty locations.
It is also interesting to note that the uniforms worn by the staff of Victoria & Albert Museum was designed by Margaret Howell in 2006. For her outstanding success in the fashion industry and remarkable contributions, Howell received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007. She also had the honor to be named the Royal Designer of the British Fashion Industry by the Royal Society of Arts that same year. Margaret’s Wigmore Street flagship store is also used to pay tribute to the designers she admires. The store is home to the Anglepoise lamps, Ercol and Ernest Race furniture, Robert Welch cutlery, John Penn architecture works and HA Rothholz graphic art. Howell is also known to support a charitable organization called Open House which promotes access to UK’s notable buildings in association with RIBA. She is currently lives in South East London with her two children Edward and Miriam.