Give Me Liberty

Silk Liberty of London Scarf

Forget Harrods and down with Topshop: Liberty has my vote for the most iconic of British Department stores. I started collecting vintage Liberty scarves (I accquired the one pictured above last week) around the time the time Alexander McQueen was weaving them through the model’s hair for his Fall 2006 or 2007 runway show.

The luxury label got its start in 1875 and became a hub of artistic life in London during the Arts and Crafts era through its early collaborations with artists like William Morris. More recently, Liberty wrapped its Carnaby Street Flagship store in a classic Betsy Print, and organized a flashmob of flowery fans. That’s what I like: the company captures English eccentricity while managing to stay on the vanguard of fashion and design.

While the shop sells the works of many high end clothing, jewellery and furniture designers its best known for its floral and paisley print fabrics. And, given todays harsh retail market, these luxurious materials are fuelling its most recent renaissance.

For example: Toronto designers Mercy are using Liberty fabrics for their Fall 2009 Collection. Turner Prize-winning ceramicist Grayson Perry has recently created a range of prints (his cross-dressed alter-ego Claire frequently uses Liberty prints for her gowns). And it’s rumoured that Target is in talks to do a collection not unlike H&M’s collaboration with Marimekko.

For your own projects, The Workroom on Queen is now carrying Liberty. And, if you’re flush with cash this September, pick up a limited edition Hermès/Liberty mashup scarf, like the one pictured below.
Hermès meets Liberty Cotton Scarf