Wednesday 17 October 2018

From William Morris to Anna Wintour: How Liberty made an art out of fashion

The Liberty of London department store in 1925
It’s this crossover between art and fashion that this exhibition emphasizes. Kate Grenyer talks enthusiastically about Liberty’s first links with the Arts & Crafts movement of the late Victorian period, and how the fabrics became the “talk of the anti-establishment artists of the time”. 
Arthur Lasenby Liberty established his company in 1875. The brand’s initial success owed a lot to the era’s obsession with Japan and China, a cultural trend that could be seen as clearly in furniture and painting as it could in fabric and jewellery.  
Ianthe’ print c1902, originally by French Art Nouveau designer R Beauclair and redrawn by David Haward’s Studio
Most famously, the Victorian Libertys worked with William Morris, who designed some of Liberty’s best-known prints. There’s also a neat link here to the Dovecot, as the studios’ founding weavers learned their craft at Morris’s Merton Abbey workshops in Wimbledon, south London. The first wave of interest in Liberty fabrics coincided with the tellingly named Artistic Dress Movement, which saw women loosen corsets, bodices and waistlines in favour of the billowing, free-flowing styles whose influence could be seen decades later when 1970s hippies took up the Liberty print mantle.  
In Morris’ day, art and fashion were inextricably linked, with women encouraged to seek inspiration for the new styles in Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic paintings, which in turn were filled with references to Medieval Europe and Ancient Greece.   
And that’s not to mention the links between Liberty and Art Nouveau (in Italy the term “Stile Liberty” was in fact coined to describe Art Nouveau style), Liberty and Bauhaus, Liberty and Pop Art.
A 1960 Liberty silk and satin embroidered kaftan
Read the full article HERE

No comments: