Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Power of Flowers

The Fashion and Textile Museum are currently displaying 140 years of Liberty fashion and fabrics. A company that was started by Arthur Lasenby Liberty began when he was asked to look after the Oriental Department of the Farmer and Rogers Great Cloak and Shawl Emporium in Regent Street. He became friends with members of the Aesthetic movement and this allowed him to establish his own shop across the street.  

In his early years Japan had just opened trade links with the West and Japanese inspired clothing was the height of fashion.  This section of the Liberty in Fashion exhibition at the museum included some of my favourite items, particularly this embroidered outfit.  Behind is a piece of the the painted design.

The Aesthetic movement itself must have been a revelation when women were able to wear clothing that allowed them not only to move more freely but display their taste in the arts.  Liberty's was also a promoter of traditional skills and the exhibition displays several smocked outfits, alongside a display of traditional crochet.  

The twentieth century is well represented moving from the traditional floral prints of the 1920s and 30s to the bolder Art Nouveau revival style of the 1950s.  In the 1960 to 1970s designers used Liberty prints in modern trend-setting styles.  

Any student of fashion will, I think, enjoy this exhibition as much for the clothing details as the prints themselves, and the museum are more than happy for you to take flash-free photography.  

A small section of designs by Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell, design consultants for Liberty in the 1960s shows fabrics used for fashion and furnishings, and completes the exhibition.

The exhibition continues until 28 February 2016 and will be followed by Art Textiles: Marian Clayden in March and April.  As always the museum has a whole host of talks, workshops and activities.

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