About Joyatri

Avid thrifter and vintage clothes wearer. Love 1960s and early 1970s styles. Partial to Art Nouveau, Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian, Renaissance and Medieval art. Former art historian. Current packrat. On a continual quest for good-looking, comfortable vegan shoes. Bhangra dancer since 2002. Fascinated by all things Indian. Vegan and animal advocate. 

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Words I like:

"She was dressed, as usual, in an odd assortment of clothes, most of which had belonged to other people." 

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1913-1980)

 

 

“I said "Somebody should do something about that." Then I realized I am somebody.”

 Lily Tomlin

 

 

 

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« A fine and dandy day | Main | Let the sun shine »
Wednesday
May292013

Liberty's re-visited

Back in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, I visited London several times a year, mostly for my job. For the first few years, I didn’t really know anyone in the city and, in my free time, spent hours and hours just walking around, visiting museums, bookstores, tearooms, and vegetarian cafes.

Liberty & Co. was always on my list. I could while away hours in there, looking at fabrics, rugs, Indian furniture, Arts & Crafts decorative arts, and books. There was a cafeteria-style tearoom on the basement level where learned to take milk in my tea and discovered millionaire’s shortbread (before I became vegan). I couldn’t afford much at Liberty’s, but the dollar was strong enough back then that I was able to buy some of their signature-print items as gifts.

I've popped into Liberty's in recent years and have seen many changes since I used to haunt its floors decades ago. The bookshop is gone, the lower level tearoom is gone, and there’s pretty much nothing in the store that I can afford these days. I decided to spend a little more time there today, on the 3rd and 4th floors which house fabric and ethnic and Arts & Crafts furnishings.

I love that there is still a department that sells ribbon, buttons, and sewing notions in addition to its famous printed fabrics.

The annual Arts & Crafts exhibition was on and prices have risen since the days when I used to source furniture, metalwork and ceramics from this period for a museum.

I own a couple ceramic tiles like those above. They were designed by J. Moyr Smith and depict scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. My U.K. trips provided opportunities to add to my collection of Victorian tiles, however I rarely paid more than $5 and never more than $15-20. These at Liberty were priced at £125 each.

You can view more pieces in the exhibition here.

Long-sleeve t-shirt, thrifted, Goodwill. 1960s woven belt, thrifted, Goodwill. Cotton patchwork wrap skirt sold by a non-profit that trained former sex workers to sew, bought at a fair trade bazaar ages ago for $15. Necklace made by my mother. Bangles from India. Clogs painted by me, thrifted, Goodwill. By coincidence I was wearing a belt and skirt that looked right at home in Liberty’s rugs and carpet department!

* I believe the name is just "Liberty London" now, but since I'm stuck in the 19th century, I still think of it as "Liberty & Co."

Reader Comments (7)

O, Liberty's is such an icon!
I adore Arts and Crafts.
XXX

May 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelga

I'm drooling - I love Morris prints, and I would love to see Liberty's. Funny, I had never heard of it until I studied the Aesthetic Movement. What a great time for design!

May 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVal Sparkle

It is an amazing shop, but yes, certainly one to browse and gawp in rather than actually buy!
Love all those prints, and your delightful patchwork skirt. xxx

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCurtise

Oh, lucky,lucky you! The fabric floor at Liberty & Co is better than a candy shop.

I enjoyed seeing the other Arts & Crafts things on the Liberty blog. I could use that Shapland & Petter desk.

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLizzie

I nearly expired with excitement when someone liked a photo I'd posted on Facebook recently and I clicked on the link to discover he was Liberty's style director!
I've never set foot in the shop but I love those tiles and your skirt is gorgeous. xxx

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVix

An Aladdin's Cave of stunning fabrics. Despite living in London for well over a decade now I've never actually been to Liberty. It probably has a lot to do with what you said about not being able to afford anything, that often puts me off going in even for a wee browse, I feel too much like a fish out of water in lush department stores. I have scored Liberty fabrics from the car boot sales in the past, my best one was four huge curtains in the iconic Hera print for a fiver, gave two of them to my mother-in-law, she was chuffed to bits. To answer your comment on my blog post, my friend leaves on Tuesday morning so Wednesday would be perfect for you to pop around, that gives me just enough time to tidy up as it may be a messy weekend, we haven't hung out since our teens ;)
I also want to bring out some clobber that you might want to have a look at. I'm absolutely in awe with the fabulous skirt you are wearing here, even more because of the story behind it. Looking forward to hooking up again. All the best, Jennie...xXx

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

I love Liberty & Co; I can't resist going in & looking around even though more or less everything is out of my price range.
Your patchwork skirt is beautiful & absolutely perfect for visiting Liberty's store.

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNorma

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