Not too long ago – which in my mind means at least a week ago, if not a month, but in real time translates as 30 seconds ago, as in the time it took me to click on Microsoft Word New Blank Document – it occurred to me that I would write about me thinking about Margaret Howell while taking my daily shower. It seemed like a genius idea for those brief 30 seconds, until I remembered that I do not have a shower. I have a bath. I bathe. I do not shower. And then I realised that the gay population of the office, basically the entire population of the office, do not want to read about me showering or bathing while thinking about Margaret Howell. Which led to the realisation that no gay man would want to read that either. So instead of my thoughts being set to a backdrop of a meticulous daily hygiene ritual, here are 10 reasons why Margaret Howell is great. I say reasons, but I mean stream of random consciousness. None of these involve showering or bathing. It was grey. Very grey. Fifty shades of it. Without the spanking. Which leads me to conclude that Margaret has read Fifty Shades of Grey, and so chosen to pay homage to this literary phenomenon via the medium of clothes. Personally I have yet to read it, though I do have it at home. During a recent visit my mother decided to take the bus to Asda to have a look round; she had never been before and was bored. There may have been some drinking involved beforehand. She returned with the whole trilogy as it was on offer and there was nothing else to buy. She hadn’t wanted to come home empty-handed. In my head, Fifty Shades is set in a grand estate somewhere in Yorkshire. I know it isn’t as I Googled it, but I like to think that it is. Our young hero is home alone. He is an intellectual type who favours pared-down clothing. A boxy jacket, something in tweed, and a flannel trouser; he wears his shirts untucked and likes to accessorise with a beret. Life on the family estate can be dull. There are only so many books one can read. The nearest village is a 40-minute drive away and is home only to a Post Office. And so our young hero seeks solace in the maid, who in turn is of the belief that helping a young man find his sexuality, helping him become a man, is the most noble thing a woman can do and so takes it upon herself to teach him about the hidden delights of washing machines and wooden spoons. Imagine how much better Fifty Shades would be if told in clothes instead of words.
Photographer: Jason Lloyd-Evans
by Natalie Dembinska