Liberty in Fashion

Exhibitions Fashion Historical textiles shows and workshops

Founded in 1875, the influence of Liberty's original prints on British fashion seems overarching, the multi-coloured florals and swirling patterns instantly recognisable to the consumer. The prints, which have been in production for 140 years this year, are celebrated at London's Fashion and Textile Museum in October's exhibition Liberty in Fashion. Liberty 5 The fabrics in 2015 seem as relevant to British design culture today as they have throughout their history of production, appealing to the housewife who could buy the fabric as a wallpaper in her kitchen, or the Sixties teen girl who could cut it into a hand-sewn mini dress. Its best attribute, however, is the ability the designs have to evolve with changing fashions, doing their part to reflect back public tastes, as well as creating them. For example, in the near 1 and a half centuries the house has been working, they have referenced movements as various as Orientalism, Aestheticism, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Liberty in Fashion also explores some of the brand's lesser-known history, post-war decades that brought on a more commercial, pastoral side to the brand, without diminishing any of the fabric's star power. Liberty 1 The use of colour and adventurous prints in part stems from the department store's focus on importing goods from China, Japan and the Middle East at the turn of the century, ensuring a wide range of influences for the British designers and manufacturers who produced the prints. In turn, the prints themselves have sparked off collaborations at home, with designers such as Vivienne Westwood; as well as overseas, with French designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Muir looking to celebrate the exuberant colour and wild hallucinogenic floral prints, and Liberty in Fashion proves that even nearly 150 years later, the simple attraction of florals still has the power to inspire a new generation of creatives. Liberty has inevitably appeared in numerous issues of Selvedge, including numbers 96, 87, 39 and 27. Browse our back issue archive to find out more. 9 October – 28 February 2016 imagebanner blog

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  • Madeleine Humphrys on

    Would love to see the Indian exhibition but I live abroad. How wonderful that Liberties is still in vogue. I am a subscriber

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