Loving Liberty

As spring draws closer, I have begun to ponder shorter skirts, bare legs, jewel coloured toenails and open shoes – like my favourite red Birkenstocks.  I want to change my hair, tan my skin and fling open every window in the house and let the dead winter energy out and let in all the vibrant energy of spring!  

Sage sticks and clapping in corners removes stagnant energy from heating the house all through winter.  This dead energy also settles under furniture and behind closed doors.  The sun has been shining here consistently for a week.  We haven’t seen this much sunshine since April.  The garden is beginning to dry out and I actually found myself pruning and weeding for the first time since late summer.  Gardening is grounding and I find it recharges my energy, something I am in constant need of.  The new buds of the season and the early flowers have got me dreaming of cotton floral dresses…  

I have started shopping for them too.  I bought three cotton dresses last week, one white, one dark grey and one light grey.  All button up through the front and sit at just the right height above my knee.  Lately I have also added to my wardrobe, a striped jersey cotton scarf, a fantastic dark denim blazer, a gorgeous silk flippy mini with cute ponies on the fabric, and a pair of Nuala Puma sneakers – with magnets in the soles to align my chakras (thank you Christy Turlington).  I also bought some black harem pants which I adore because they are soooo comfortable and so easy to find things to wear with, but alas my adoring hubby truthfully told me on the weekend that he thought they were not very flattering (I won’t tell you his exact words).  So I have decided that I shall only wear them when he is not around, because frankly I have had many positive comments about these pants and while I couldn’t care less about that, comfort is key and they are too darn comfy to give up!  Just yet anyway.  
But I digress…

When one thinks of spring inspired fabrics, one cannot go past the epitome of floral prints and that is of course, Liberty.

I love this look above of the short floral skirt teamed with the blazer, it is such a cute look.  These prints are so gorgeous, they are part of the latest collection from Kate Moss for Topshop.  J’adore the tiny details in the flowers and the art nouveau of the top print.    

Liberty of London made their name over 135 years ago for importing Oriental fabrics, the finest of their kind and then later for designing and producing their own line of designs.

Arthur Liberty opened his first Oriental imports shop in Regent Street in London in 1875.  He sold mainly rugs, fabrics and decorative objects.  It was called The East India House and it was not unlike an Eastern bazaar.  It eventually became a meeting place for artists and within a few years, Liberty’s Oriental fabrics were so popular that the store, now renamed Liberty, had difficulty keeping up with demand.  It was then Liberty began to import undyed silk, cashmere and cotton fabrics, which were then handprinted in England in the style of Oriental fabrics.

In 1884, Liberty established a costume department where clothing was designed and made from Liberty fabrics.  The goal was to make clothing based on historical costume, reinterpreted for the modern wearer.

Liberty opened a store in Paris in 1890, (remaining open until 1932) and another in Birmingham as well as twelve cities in Britain that sold Liberty products and agents around the globe including in New York, Boston and Chicago.   

Liberty is best known for embracing the Art Nouveau style in the mid 1890s.  They produced many textiles in this style, many of which are still produced today.

In 1925, a new store in the Tudor Revival style was opened in Great Malborough Street which still houses Liberty today.

The Liberty prints that many of us would be familiar with are the small floral prints that were first produced in the 1920s.   The best known of these style of fabric prints was Tana Lawn.  Still a best seller, it is about to be seen in all its glory in the new Kate Moss for Topshop collection.

Over the years, many designers have used Liberty fabrics in their collections, most notably French label Cacharel.

My first experience of Liberty fabrics was by association.  There were some girls at my university that wore Laura Ashley style frilly blouses made from Liberty fabrics.  These girls were known as Sloanes.  They were most usually associated with wealth, horses, boarding schools, antique jewellery, but no aristocratic links as the term usually refers to in the UK.  I cannot recall ever knowingly being told about Liberty fabrics, but when I first saw the girls in their printed blouses, skirts and scarves, I just knew instantly that they were wearing Liberty.  

You can always count on Kate Moss to get on board promoting cool Britannia, and this season’s Kate Moss for Topshop collection is no exception.

Kate has used Liberty fabrics throughout her collection, which will no doubt see Liberty reach the pinnacles of fame – perhaps on a scale not yet seen within the house of Liberty.  Mark my words, Liberty’s profile will rise, it will be seen on everyone, from Kate, to people in the street, to the über stylish elite.    

Liberty prints have been used as lining in the handbags at Carcharel, to the fabric in these Nike sneakers!  

Mix your florals with basic shades like black, grey, or white.  Or try doing the complete reverse and mix them so that they clash.  

Below is a selection from the Cacharel Spring RTW 09 show.  The look is very spring and very bohemian inspired.  I love these looks, I could live in them for the entire spring. 

Cacharel used fabrics designed in the 1960s and 1970s reworking them on todays designs for their 50th anniversary show.

I hope I’ve got you a little inspired and looking forward to spring?  
Soon I am going to show you a little about transeasonal dressing, how to go effectively and stylishly from winter to spring, with as little fuss as possible.

Ciao for now,

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