“I was determined not to follow existing fashion but to create new ones” – Arthur Lasenby Liberty
Founded by Arthur Lasenby Liberty 140 years ago, Liberty has been a huge contributor to the fashion landscape of Britain. Over 150 garments, textiles and objects showcase Liberty’s relationships with designers since 1875, from Yves Saint Laurent and Vivienne Westwood to Kate Moss, Topshop and Nike.
The exhibition charts Liberty’s history as ‘the’ fashionable place to shop as well as its role as the source of key trends in fashion history. The timeline of Liberty takes us from the artistic dressing of the twentieth century, through to the swinging sixties and Liberty today.
Here are some of our favourite pieces from the exhibition.
A dialogue with the East
There was a big demand for exotic merchandise in the twentieth century. Liberty’s textiles and collections at this time took inspiration from the East. The kimono was one of the big sellers, providing the basis for dressing gowns and wraps.
The Fabric of Fashion
Liberty had begun to produce delicate floral prints before WW1.
‘The 1920s’ shopper tended towards prints on a dark ground; these gave way to pastel shades on a light ground, which reflected the more romantic mood of the 1930s.’
The Tana lawn and Sungleam crepe were the more popular textiles.
The Art Nouveau Revival
Designer William Poole redrew a selection of Liberty’s original Art Nouveau patterns, and recoloured them in vivid shades. The designs were released as the ‘Lotus’ collection.
‘Youthful style and freedom’ was part of the fashion design in the 1960s. Liberty prints were used by many designers and large manufacturers, and Liberty fabric labels were often printed alongside their own, including the Dolly Rockers collection, produced by Sambo Fashions.
‘Liberty’s collaborative relationships with artists, designers and stylists expanded from the 1990s as its distinctive prints and fabrics were used by established design houses and new talent alike, who were drawn to its unique blend of tradition and innovation.’
The exhibition is on until 28 February 2016 at the Fashion and Textiles Museum, Bermondsey Street, London. Click here for more info.