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Liberty in Fashion

Friday saw me off for a long awaiting weekend away in Bournemouth with my very dear friends Ali and April and I took full advantage by taking a few hours en-route for a happy afternoon in London.  I wanted to see the Liberty in Fashion Exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum.

The exhibition celebrates the 140th anniversary of Liberty’s. Focussing on Liberty’s fabrics and print designs, the exhibition explores Liberty’s impact on British fashion, from Orientalism and Aesthetic dress in the 19th century, through Art Nouveau (me drooling over these – my favourite era) and Art Deco in the early 20th century, and the revival of these styles since the 1950s.


The surprising thing for me, and one that I had not considered before, was the continual recycling and reworking of the print designs through time. At times small on dark back grounds during the 1920’s, later the prints becoming lighter, to be blown up in the bold (my interptetation and reaction: the word ‘gopping’ sprang to mind in yer face prints of the 1960’s.  And of course the ever present Peacock feather, made fabulous by the Hera print design.

As a fashion and textile student in a former lifetime I was somewhat obsessed with the Aesthetic dress movement and styles of the early twentieth century.  The loose fit, the way the fabrics draped, the influence of the East.  So I was as happy as with this:

DSC04646This beautiful scarlet red cape (c. 1860) in silk with metallic thread embroidered paisley design and tassels to the hood:DSC04642 The silk tea dresses were just so  utterly feminine.  Shockingly tiny though, were women of a certain status starved to diminished proportions?DSC04601 And, aside from the cape, if I could have stuffed one thing into my rcuksack, it would be this sun-ray pleated pinafore dress made of Varuna wool in ‘Hera’ and cotton velveteen by Annabelinda:

DSC04605The detail at the yoke was just lovely, even though i am not partial to yellow, or brown, it was the sun-ray pleats, the button detailing at the yoke and side fastening and the overall silhouette that spoke to me:
DSC04606 DSC04617

This button hole detail was recurring design feature, as in this pinafore dress in blue corduroy and cotton:DSC04613

The exhibition also gave a peek into the craft and design process.  This was a silk embroidery sample, yes just a sample produced by someone to show their skill and then tucked away in a cupboard.  It was exquisite.


And the notebooks and sketches:DSC04610Definitely worth a visit.  Not much wool I’m afraid and definitely no knitwear but I did find this:

DSC04608And you can’t argue with that…