(Prints from the Liberty London Classics collection)
Founded in 1875, Liberty of London has been a part of the London shopping scene for over 140 years.
Set up by Arthur Lasenby Liberty using money borrowed from his future father in law, it was inspired by Eastern bazaars and was designed to offer a completely new homeware and fashion shopping experience.
Arthur had judged his market well, and his collection of ornaments and fabrics were popular amongst a clientele discovering Eastern travel and Japanese and Chinese influences. Celebrity clients included Oscar Wilde, who was responsible for introducing the brand to the American market.
Liberty’s always prided itself on doing things a little differently, and when a new building was required in 1924 architects built the new premises from the timbers of two ships, HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan.
The building incorporated a number of small rooms to encourage the feeling of being in a multi-faceted market. Some of the rooms had fireplaces, to create the impression that customers were seeing the goods in a domestic environment. The business blossomed, and Arthur began to champion British designers, developing his own lines.
Always known for its individual prints, in 1939, they started to prove so popular that a separate wholesale company was formed, Liberty of London Prints. Individual, hand printed block designs were made into everything from silk scarves to furnishing fabric. Particularly popular were Liberty’s take on William Morris’ classic designs, were are still popular today.
In 1970, Liberty sold its printworks, meaning that Liberty fabrics can now be printed by other British companies as well as in the Far East.
How to get the Liberty look in your home
Liberty print fabrics tend to be eye-catching, vibrant and richly coloured with an emphasis on floral, paisley, graphic and patterned designs. It’s sometimes possible to buy original Liberty fabric on online auction sites and in vintage shops. The bold designs from the 1950s and 1960s work well as cushions, and sometimes, if you only find a small fragment of material, it looks lovely framed.
Liberty’s themselves still sell many of their ‘archive’ fabrics and other stockists nationwide sell the current range. Liberty prints were so popular that a whole range of fabrics were inspired by them. To create your own ‘Liberty-inspired’ soft furnishings, look for busy prints teamed with strong, contrasting colours.
Liberty blind, Direct Blinds
Brighten up your kitchen with this Liberty-inspired blind in azalea. Bold and colourful, it will lift your spirits on the dullest of days. Prices start at £35.15 from Direct Blinds.
Liberty flag garland, Sisters Guild
Add colour to a neutral background with this small garland, featuring flag pennants decorated with classic Liberty floral patterns suspended on shimmering metallic thread. The pack contains one 10 ‘ garland with 30 pennants. £9, available from Sisters Guild.
Liberty Betsy pinwheel decorations, Berry Red
This boxed set of six individual pinwheel decorations are in a mixture of iconic Liberty Betsy print and plain white with a neon orange scalloped edge. Ideal for adding a little pizzazz to summer parties and weddings, they’d look lovely hanging from the branches of a tree – on a dry night! £11, available from Berry Red.
Liberty cupcake cases, Cake & Candle Ltd
Bake in style with these cupcake cases,decorated with an assortment of classic Liberty floral patterns. These will add a bit of classic flair to the simplest cupcakes. £5.99 for 100 from Cake & Candle.
Liberty print basket, At Number 67
A gorgeous basket with Liberty fabric edge and leather handles, this is ideal for those morning trips to the market in the spring, a picnic or a trip to the beach in the summer – or even a spot of light gardening. When not in use, hang it in the hallway with your straw hat and a scarf to add a note of colour. Was £34.90, now £24.90 from At Number 67.