I had no idea what Liberty was when I arrived in London a few years ago. It seemed to me as a beautiful old building, whose architecture was eye catching and ideal for a photographer like me. Since then, this department store located in Soho evokes many things including luxury, fashion, iconic London.
Today DOYOUSPEAKLONDON invits you to discover Liberty, the iconic luxury retailer in London.
Liberty, London fashion retailer
The now-so-famous Liberty of London department store was founded by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in 1875 with a £2,000 loan from his future father-in-law. Arthur Lasenby Liberty’s vision was said to be “a home of cutting-edge artistry and self-expression”.
At that time, the store was mainly selling fabrics, ornaments, and Japanese art objects.
Since its opening, the store has grown to include a wide variety of goods in its offerings and has become one of the most prominent stores in London.
Liberty now offers its distinctive fabric prints and luxury leather goods around the world.
Liberty’s Collections count “an ever-growing range of covetable fashion accessories, clothing, homeware and even food, with many products featuring the Liberty London own prints”.
This is truly a wonder to walk up and down the old stairs of the store and explore each department. Everything is so luxurious and well-displayed that you want to stay there forever and browse the different stalls and displays.
What I prefer the most when I explore Liberty is surely the apparent quality of the products there, but also the fact that the choice of ranges is so much symbolizing London. The goods there are representative of the spirit of London, its eclecticism, his extravagance, its passion for printed and floral fabrics ! You can’t imagine being anywhere else but in the UK capital when you come into Liberty, that’s what makes it so special …
The most difficult part of the business I guess is to attract always more customers while preserving the shop heritage. The success of Liberty London is here to prove that it was well managed so far.
The Liberty’s building history
When Arthur Lasenby Liberty started his business at 218a Regent Street with three staff members, he only had half a shop at his disposal. Within eighteen months, he had repaid the loan and acquired the second half of 218 Regent Street. As the business grew, neighbouring properties were bought and added to the shop.
The construction of the Tudor revival building that we currently know on Great Marlborough Street started in 1924 and “used timber recycled from the ships HMS Hindustan (the frontage of the building even has the same length as the Hindustan) and HMS Impregnable”. Today this building is a Grade II* listed building.
It is said that “the weathervane on top of the store bears a model of the Mayflower, the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America”.
If you look at the clock on Kingly Street, you may see some words of wisdom for the shoppers who pass by : “No minute gone comes back again, take heed and see ye do nothing in vain.” Above the clock, the striking of the hour chime brings out figures of St. George and the Dragon, to recreate their legendary battle every sixty minutes. Look also at the angels of the Four Winds: Uriel (south), Michael (east), Raphael (west), and Gabriel (north); they are situated on each corner of the clock.
I found this wooden memorial in one of the stairs, dedicated to the staff who died in the war.
Christmas at Liberty
Christmas at Liberty has to always be very special to gain visibility and attractively. This year especially, I found the interior decorations quite spectacular …
The luxury store is currently exhibiting in its central atrium an impressive Christmas window display called “The Tree of Liberty”.
A vertiginous and colourful bonsai tree made from fabric, that hangs from the ceiling of the iconic store.
The art sculpture artist who created it, Billie Achilleos, said: “We choose lush velvets, shiny crystals and high gloss decorations to make it feel as luxurious as possible.” Sure, shiny and luxury it is, but on an artistic level, it is worth the visit!
Quite fascinating and enchanting at the same time … go for yourself and have a look at the baubles, gifts and exotic animals perched across the tree.
The story associated with this tree is based on a poem by Gabrielle Djanogly, which tells the story of an All-Seeing Owl and the vision he had for a magical tree… The result is of course stunning by its size and charming by its poetic dimension. I think that looking at this tree is the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit …
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found inspiration here. If you are planning to explore Liberty London, please share your experience and opinion here!