Until February 28th 2016 the London Fashion and Textile Museum is hosting over 150 garments, textiles and objects paying homage to the British established retailer and originator of key trends in fashion history for now 140 years: Liberty London.

Meant to supply fashionable goods from the Far East, the originally warehouse was founded in 1875 by Arthur Lasenby Liberty willing to create new fashion rather than to follow the existing styles. Strongly influenced by its collaborations, particularly with the protagonists of the Art Nouveau movement, the Liberty look entwines historic and artistic dressing – Oscar Wilde’s quote in the headline as proof of it. Symbol also of exoticism, Liberty has sourced items from other countries, including the kimono, which provided the basis for dressing gowns.

No matter the fashion period, from 1920s’ silk brocade evening coat to Jimmy Choo contemporary pumps, via the jazzy 60s but also nostalgic 70s silk trouser suit by designer Bernard Nevill, Liberty’s exhibition is showcasing the store’s premium features: the handcrafted feel and embroideries.

EveningCoat-c19201930-silk-brocade-Liberty

Not afraid to look back at its archives, Liberty has that sense of avant-garde by realising the potential of returning trends. Its archetypal floral print, produced for the first time before the First World War, still innovates in the areas of retailing and decorative arts. Since ever promoting through collaborations – from Arthur Silver of Silver Studio to Jean Muir, Cacharel, Yves Saint Laurent and Vivienne Westwood – the Eastern Bazaar drew, and still does, established design houses and new talents alike, spreading its unique tradition across every sub-sectors of the fashion industry.

Delightful not only for the eye, the exhibition informs and educates as well as inspires visitors, so has done Liberty ever since its birth 140 years old ago. /C.

Liberty-post-60sdress-70strousersuit

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25 November 2015

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