Exhibition: Liberty in Fashion

To kick-start our new year’s resolution to wear more print (surely it’s the easiest way to brighten up a drab, dark and dry January), we finally got along to the Fashion and Textile Museum’s Liberty in Fashion exhibition – and found out it’s about much more than paisley and pattern.

One of our all-time favourite London department stores, the exhibition charts Liberty’s 140-year history as the place to shop and originator of textile and print trends: “I was determined not to follow existing fashion but to create new ones,” said its founder, Arthur Lasenby Liberty – and so he did.

Liberty began as a coloured silk emporium, before moving into cashmeres, lacquerware, enamel, furnishings and oriental goods; the East was a big influence for the Liberty aesthetic from the outset. The kimono inspired its early shapes and continues to influence its dressing gowns and wraps today. It also revived certain traditional craftskills, such as smocking and embroidery, which became associated with the brand.

Before the First World War, Liberty began developing its iconic floral prints, but these really grew in popularity during the Twenties and Thirties. Liberty sold both finished garments and fabrics for the home-sewer, and the scarves became highly sought after, as they are today – certainly round our office.


And the retailer is still very much ‘in fashion’, collaborating in recent years with designers and big-name brands including Cacharel, Vivienne Westwood, Jimmy Choo, Kate Moss for Topshop and Vivienne Westwood. Or maybe it’s not ‘in’ fashion at all. Being ‘in’, suggests that it’s sometimes ‘out’, but if the last 140 years are anything to go by, Liberty’s certainly not in the business of going out of style.

If you haven’t visited yet, it’s well worth a trip. Liberty in Fashionruns until 28th February 2016.

Follow the action on Instagram here: @FashionTextileMuseum

TravelCharlotte Jacklin