Howell and Tait delight at London Fashion Week

Margaret Howell a consistent champion of offhand gamine elegance


The razzmatazz, food, champagne and general party atmosphere at Topshop Unique’s show on the Gray’s Inn Road at London Fashion Week might have led style watchers to expect the same spirit in its spring summer 2015 offerings. But after a line up – bookended by model Cara Delevingne stomping up and down the catwalk - of frilly knickers, boxy striped jackets, cycling jerseys and backless, see through sequinned dresses, it was not hard to wonder whether the high street retailer was losing its way and heading for Magaluf.

It was all so different at Margaret Howell, a consistent champion of offhand gamine elegance (who doesn’t do going out dresses) and head of a retail empire with more than a £75 million turnover. This season she showed in the Rambert dance company on the South Bank to highlight the Open House organisation. True to form, her collection was fresh, cool, fuss and pattern free – clotted cream knits with cotton duck skirts, easygoing linen shorts and jackets, dresses with pleated skirts and navy parkas, all teamed with linen and leather sandals, looks bound to please customers in her Irish flagship in Rathgar.

London Fashion Week highlights

At the Burberry show in Kensington Gardens, Cara Delevingne(she’s everywhere) arrived hand in hand with Kate Moss in a navy trouser suit and trainers highlighting one definite sartorial summer trend. (Both models front the company’s current beauty campaign). With backing from young singer songwriter James Bay, this was a big collection from Christopher Bailey who now combines the role of chief creative officer and chief executive. Tight little cropped denim or suede jackets over sheer, fluttery skirts light as butterflies with trenchcoats covered in painterly images of British insects summed up the thrust of this nature led collection with its mixture of floral and abstracted camouflage prints.

Star of today, however, was Thomas Tait, winner of the coveted Young Fashion Designer Prize of £300,000 with a collection called Dechire (or Torn)shown in a deserted building on the Strand in collaboration with the French art photographer George Rousse replicating his visuals in garment form. That made for a fascinating show, bold in colour, adventurous in cut, with standout pieces including a nude leather sleeveless coat, a shapely side pleated jacket in bright red leather, striped neon filament dresses and chequerboard silk skirts.