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Margaret Howell

Margaret Howell has worked across men’s and women’s fashion for the last 40 years and is famed for her classically British take on tailored shirts, duffle coats and lace up shoes. She was awarded a CBE for services to the fashion industry in 2007.

Main details

Department Art
Programme BA (Hons) Fine Art
Country United Kingdom

"I wasn’t especially aware of Goldsmiths before my interview” she explains “We only lived in Surrey, but London seemed quite far away and my parents hadn’t visited very often! I remember being very nervous taking my portfolio on the train, and the interview being terrifying. They said something like “you’re very nearly very good” and I came away thinking, “I probably haven’t got this.”

From that inauspicious start, Margaret started to make the most of her course and even won the first year prize, which was £26 “A lot of money in those days! I remember going to a bookshop on Charing Cross Road, and choosing these lovely books. One was to do with the old masters, one was the impressionists, and one was about the pioneers of modern design; I still have them all.”

Life drawing classes proved especially useful “They were tremendous training for understanding proportion. Because of it I can tell when something is half a millimetre off, which is extremely useful in what I do now!” However, it was the extra curricular activities that Goldsmiths offered which proved to be life changing.

“The film club, which was put on one evening a week by the Students’ Union, was fantastic– it was great seeing all those early films by people like Fritz Lang and Kurosawa, and I was really inspired by icons like Katherine Hepburn and Louise Brooks – she was so beautiful I put a picture of her on my wall. In the evenings we also used to study subsidiary subjects including architecture. One of the lecturers had just been to Japan and he showed us beautiful slides of the temples. The emptiness and the minimal quality of those buildings really appealed to me."

Photo by Jo Metson Scott

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