I’m going to stop just short of calling it a trend, but monochrome looks really seem to be a thing in London this season. Not that I’m too terribly surprised, actually. Monochrome and London seem to go together for reasons I can’t explain. We’ve seen a similar trend here before. What we’re also seeing is a fair amount of androgyny. This is more a continuation of a gradual move we’ve been seeing in London for several seasons. Masculine tailoring has always been stronger here and when paired with simple silhouettes and monochrome looks it all comes together to form a very genderless appearance.
Margaret Howell’s spring/summer collection fits right smack in the middle of that movement. The looks are about as basic as one can get. Cashmere sweaters, cotton pants, and linen jackets ruled the day. Some had hats, which was a pleasant enough addition, but even those did not pull the ensembles away from that sense of androgyny. In fact, the crop tops that were limited to three early looks, and three pleated skirts that came later, were the only nods toward femininity in the whole show. When she adds white button down shirts to the looks, it feels very much as though the models have raided their boyfriend’s (or father’s) closet. Even the pleats on the slacks have very masculine tailoring.
Colors start and stay in the earth tone palette. Browns begin the show and are the dominant color for the collection. There is one sweater in a shaded grass green before bone white takes over for a few looks. Bone works well with the brown, also, making several of the pieces interchangeable. Grays come along for a moment, and then there’s a smattering of blues before Howell returns to a dark chocolate with white shirts.
As one might expect, masculine tailoring generally requires shoulder pads for women, and so those do exist in abundance not only in jackets but sweaters and jumpers also. They’re not too broad, thankfully, just enough to prevent the garment from hanging too loosely on smaller frames. There’s a wide array of shorts at respectable summer lengths, while skirts generally run long, right at or just below the knee. Nothing happens beyond the ordinary. Necklines are gently scooped and sit rather high. Prints, where they do exist, are very small and unassuming. No cut outs. No deep plunges. No sheer.
Solid, every day pieces that can largely be interchanged with each other as well as existing pieces of one’s wardrobe are what Margaret Howell brings for this season. The look is definitely more androgynous than this time last year, and has a darker, more serious tone. Yet, these are good clothes that can easily dominate a wardrobe. There’s flexibility here to build one’s own look and know that it will be fabulous. This Margaret Howell collection is a keeper.
Photo credit: Gio Staiano