A package was waiting for me yesterday at the office that declared its contents in no uncertain terms: small, rectangular, wrapped in brown parcel paper and taped up with thick white tape that said "MARGARET HOWELL".

It cheered me up to no end, but I had no time to revel in the moment (the sight of my email inbox quailed me).

This morning, I opened the package to find a tightly wrapped bundle of bubble wrap.

After spending about 10 seconds compulsively popping a few, I unwrapped it, and, looking like it definitely travelled a few miles to get here, was this -


I lifted the lid, and found this -



I'd thought of a luxury items as something lush, ornate, couture workmanship, materials so fine I fear to sully it. And sometimes are like that.

But looking at this shirt, I understood why MH is such a hit in Japan - it has the kind of simplicity that has been refined and refined without losing that sense of "rawness" and that's very much in tune with a certain Japanese aesthetic. The silk cotton has raw, rough/smooth quality that feels very no-nonsense; the seams, collar and cuffs are neat and precise but they are not meant to look razor sharp and slick.It's very unassuming, elegant, and it's very confident in its simplicity. I like that. It feels luxurious to me in a way that's different from say, a Birkin bag.

In the grand scheme of things, the workmanship is not the main reason why I bought the shirt (after all, a lot of companies do shirts well). It still comes back to the spirit in which MH designs her clothes, and that spirit comes across very well in her clothing. As long as this spirit holds true for me, I will happily justify her high prices and buy her clothes again when the right piece comes along.


petrichore said…
Whoo hoo! Looks lovely! I need to check her clothing out, after hearing such good things from you and others about her design.

minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style
...and a beautifully wrapped package is icing on the cake. It shows that they take pride in what they are selling.
Amanda said…
If I could afford it (and if I could fit in it), Margaret Howell would be the only designer I would stock in my wardrobe. Every piece is always so meticulously thought out and perfect - completely timeless and made to last through that timeless-ness.
Jenny said…
I love the collar! Congratulation on your successful buy:)

Kate said…
Beautiful colours.
Joy said…
I love this label so much. Everything's SO nice. Can't wait to go get some Margaret Howell stuff soon.
Aïssa said…
The package and the shirt look equally lovely.
When I used to hang around chic La Madeleine neighborhood I kept sneaking into the MH store. It's very much to the image of the brand, unique and quiet, located in a back aisle, barely visible next to Massimo Dutti so you have to make the "effort" to go inside. I never made a purchase but I think I'd have to try on a few things first to actually see if it fits my body.

Last week-end browsing the sales, I was put off by the way people (clients and store staff) mistreat clothes, not to mention the ugly plastic bags you get your purchases in.
I think that's also one of the appeal of online shopping (for me)as most sites take care to send your purchase in a beautiful wrapped package.
Sandy D said…
Beautiful packaging and shirt. Where can we find Margaret Howell clothes online?

lapindelune said…
How perfect! I love the sentence ' refined and refined without losing that sense of rawness..", this somehow manages to convey exactly what I love about MH pieces, which is how they translate to me via imagery also. I had been teetering over the Alice shirt for so long, but could never excuse it, (my most recent 'luxury' splurge turned out to be the CDG cardigan instead) and there is still a tinge of regret. But sometime in the future... perhaps!

There are so few designers left who still possess this particular spirit (which you speak of), for me. I too hope that she keeps with it.
Sandy D, as far as I know, her items are available at her own website, liberty london, and lagarconne. Not sure if there are any other outlets.
Garderoben said…
I know that feeling, and it doesn't come by often. That looks like such a lovely shirt, and beautifully wrapped.
Anonymous said…
Hi Lin, congrats on getting this this beautifully crafted shirt at the sale!

Like you and many here, I love MH for the quiet elegance of her clothing. It is a breath of fresh air with all the fashion noise going around. I like her philosophy in creating and design.

I am also impressed that her staff are helpful and polite even through emails. The shipping over the Singapore is also surprising more inexpensively (GBP10) than most other online stores.

How do you find the length of the shirt for petite frames?
lin said…
Petrichore: La Garconne actually carried a good selection of her F/W line and they have them shown on models, which is better than the actual MH website haha.

Pret a Porter P: I agree. The packaging wasn't lavish but it was done with care, which is nice.

Amanda: Me too. They have this air of "complete-ness" - they never look like novelties.

Jenny: Thanks! I love the collar too, can;t wait to wash and iron this so that it looks like it should.

Kate: I agree.

Joy: I'm relieved it worked out....buying things online is so tricky. I would love a jacket but jackets are impossible without trying them on first.

Aissa: I know! I was so surprised when I spotted it in Paris...I hadn't been looking at it. I only had time for a quick browse unfortunately, but it is such a beautiful space. I could move in.

Sandy D: Like Lapin de Lune said, you can find it on the MH website, and on La Garconne. The men's line is also carried on Mr Porter. For some reason the MHL line is listed on NAP but it's not actually available yet...

lapindelune: Oh I was so tempted by the Alice shirt too! The material also sounded promising. But funnily enough, much as I love the look of a white shirt, I like blue and striped ones more.

I hope the CDG cardi lived up to hopes?

Garderoben: This is the most excited I've been over new clothes in a while, going to treasure this feeling..

justeileen: Thanks! I was pleasantly surprised by the shipping cost too. They charged me GBP 15 though, but that's not too bad, cheaper than any US shipping and NAP.

The shirt is just nice for me - I ordered a UK size 12 and I'm 1.79m. It covers my hipbone exactly on the front and it's longer at the back. I find it true to size. The same size on a petite person just be a little too long since but it depends how "oversized" you want to the look.
luka said…
i really this brand. but unfortunately i don't think most of their clothes really fit petite persons like me. the fit is more for tall and slim type. that's also my problem with some japanese design aesthetics. they are just too oversized and shapeless for me. some are like robes that monks wear. very sexless. i understand the zen aspect of such design, and i'm totally against overtly sexy looks in general. but if the clothes does not flatter feminine bodies nor caress femininity at all, i find it hard to swallow.
miss sophie said…
what a lovely shirt! steven alan shirts do that for me. there's a bit more rumpled chic about my SA shirts, but i love that about them. can't wait to see you wear it soon :-)

happy year of the dragon!
editor said…
Hooray! And so well put. I know exactly what you are talking about. Refined, yet raw.
The Waves said…
Every once in a while when I think that my non-sensical wardrobe just needs to be blown up into oblivion in its entirety, I think of Margaret Howell's clothes, and that how maybe, just maybe, one day I might be able to wear a uniform of sorts for the rest of my life. And that uniform would be made of Margaret Howell clothes.

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