140 Years Of Liberty Prints To Star In New Exhibition
Fashion & Textile Museum in London for the press launch of Liberty in Fashion, an exhibition that explores the iconic Liberty brand in fashion and celebrates its 140th anniversary on 5th October 2016.
More than 150 garments, textiles and objects demonstrate Liberty's strong relationships with designers since 1875, from Arthur Silver of Silver Studio to collaborations with Jean Muir, Cacharel, Yves Saint Laurent and Vivienne Westwood.
The exhibition charts Liberty's history through 10 rooms, all concentrating on different eras, from Orientalism and Aesthetic dress in the 19th Century, through the Swinging Sixties and onto Liberty today.
Dennis Nothdruft, curator of Liberty in Fashion, says: 'From the earliest imports and Eastern influenced and artistic dress to present day collaborations, Liberty has occupied a unique place in British fashion. Every garment in the exhibition has been carefully chosen to enable the Museum to represent the incredible range of textile designs created by the firm as well as to present an argument about why Liberty is always in fashion.'
The introduction establishes the importance of the consumer to Liberty and the early history of Liberty and Co. from its beginnings as an Oriental Bazaar through text, a timeline, images and ephemera.
A Dialogue with the East
This room explores the circular movement of Liberty's early inspiration in the styles and artefacts of the East and the fascination of Liberty for designers in the East today.
This area profiles the Liberty dress department, which encouraged women to dress artistically and wear loose fitting, medieval inspired costumes, similar to those popularized by Pre-Raphaelite paintings. It was at this point that Liberty found a dedicated following amongst cultured upper and middle classes with an aesthetic and historical style.
A Dying Art Revived
A Dying Art Revived outlines how traditional craft skills, including the art of smocking, were promoted and became closely associated with the retailer.
The Fabric of Fashion
The Fabric of Fashion details the range of Liberty fabrics – from wool, silk and tana lawn – in particular the legendary Liberty floral designs that increased in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s and which continues to be a mainstay of the company.
The Art Nouveau Revival
This space show how the store's fabric and clothing in the 1950s reflected contemporary trends in fashion and design and why the company was at the forefront of the Art Nouveau revival.
Swinging Liberty highlights the new wave of British fashion design that came to the fore in the 1960s, and the young designers from whom Liberty's wholesale fabrics provided a major resource: Mary Quant, Foale and Tuffin, Marion Donaldson, Gerald McCann and Jean Muir.
This area charts the era of nostalgia and ethnicity in fashion in which Liberty played a key role as both a textile wholesaler and fashion retailer. It features textile designs by Bernard Nevill, Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell.
Collaborations showcases the designers of fashion, accessories and textiles for whom Liberty fabrics provided a source of inspiration in the 1990s and 2000s.
Liberty Today explores the ways in which the company continues to innovate the design, retailing and promotion of a modern heritage brand.
The Art of Pattern
There's also a room dedicated to The Art of Pattern: Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell for Liberty 1961 - 77. The sister design duo's work for Liberty energised the firm's textile collections for more than 15 years. Known for their painterly approach to pattern, Collier and Campbell paved the way for a vibrant new aesthetic in Liberty's prints. Many prints are on display in this room, including a scarf montage.
The exhibiton runs from 9th October 2015 - 28th February 2016 at the Fashion and Textile Museum at 83 Bermondsey Street, London. Visit www.ftmlondon.org to find out more and book your tickets.