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liberty of london

by Grace Bonney

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I decided I could not possibly spend a week talking about pattern design without mentioning the design power-house that is Liberty of London. Shopping and all round mecca for all who appreciate beauty, quality and design – the Liberty fabric archive is no exception to this rule. Quintessentially English and outrageously eclectic – I just knew I had to declare my love for it publicly while I had the chance. ;)

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Not long after Liberty opened in 1875, the first Liberty fabrics were printed. Since that time new and original designs have been added to the collections seasonally and the amazing archive is kept alive. Designers through the ages have drawn inspiration from art, architecture and above all, nature! I love how, even with the natural or floral subject matter, you can instantly age the patterns to, say, the thirties {the soft florals} or to the Arts and Crafts period {strong, busy, intensely detailed prints where the fabric are akin to William Morris}!

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I love the way Liberty uses their strong visual identity across the board – in recent years, rejuvenating the brand by using their historic prints to give a new twist to luxurious products – from homewares to clothing to leather goods {oh the handbags!}. Other long running British brands like Pringle, Burberry and Aquascutum have done similar overhauls in the last decade – they really have embraced their traditional roots rather than ignore them, and, with the most subtle of tweaks and strongest of add campaigns made their goods ‘cool and desirable’ again for the modern market…

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Walking into the haberdashery department in Liberty is one of my greatest pleasures in life. I recommend it to all who will listen, because, believe me…the rolls and rolls of yardage in these prettiest of patterns are enough to make you melt and swear your allegiance to chintz forever more!

Long live Liberty!

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