Michael Howells, a production designer for TV, film and theater who also worked on fashion shows for the likes of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, died Thursday. He was 61.
Born in 1957 in Staffordshire, England, Howells began his showbiz career as an assistant art director on The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) and soon became a busy production designer. He served in that capacity on more than two dozen films and TV shows including Princess Caraboo (1994), Emma (1995), FairyTale: A True Story (1997) and Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1997).
During the 2000s, he was production designer on such features as Nanny McPhee (2005) and Death at a Funeral (2007) before segueing to British TV for 2014 miniseries The Game, 2016 telepic Churchill’s Secret and most recently the ITV period drama Victoria, which aired on PBS stateside. Howells won a British Film Designers Award for Victoria in 2016 and was nominated again last year. His work on Victoria also earned Howells an award for professional excellence from the Royal Television Society.
He also earned a BFDA and BAFTA noms for his work on the 2002 miniseries Shackleton starring Kenneth Branagh. Other credits include serving as art designer on the 1992 features Orlando and The Accompanist.
Howells was well respecting in the fashion world for creating catwalk sets for McQueen, Galliano, Christian Lacroix and others, and he also worked on the ad campaigns for brands including Dior and Burberry.
Here’s a sampling of the many tributes to Howell on social media: