I have been so remiss. I went to this exhibition ages ago at the Bermondsey Fashion and Textile Museum. When Sew2Pro suggested we might take Sewniptuck to see it I had said it was an expensive museum with shows of variable quality, so we did something else instead. But Sew2Pro, I was wrong. It was a great exhibition. Not least because they allowed visitors to take photographs. However that means I have lots to show you. So today I will concentrate on the clothes and reserve my textile photographs for a second post.
The shop in Regent street is my (and everyone else’s) favourite London shop. The company was started by Arthur Lasenby in 1875 with a loan from his future father in law. The loan was worth about £200,000 in today’s money. He acquired half a shop in Regent Street which he later expanded. The current Mock Tudor shop was designed by Edwin S. and Edwin T. Hall (his son) using wood from the HMS Hindustan and HMS Impregnable. They used the authentic Tudor woodworking techniques to make stairs and balustrades from solid oak and teak.
His original idea was to change the way we shop and buy things – introducing a new aesthetic of beauty, bringing goods and materials in from the East – mainly India in the first instance. He wanted people in London to have access to nice, artistic things for their homes and to wear, Oscar Wilde was an early adopted and when he visited America in 1882 he explained that his artistic dress was largely acquired at Liberty’s. Mr Lasenby became very rich as his amazing emporium and notions of style and beauty really took off and he was knighted in 1913. His gravestone was designed by Archibald Knox, one of the talented Arts and Crafts designers he had previously employed.
Anyway you want to see some pictures, don’t you?
The first is a Japanese import from around 1905 made in orange silk with a lovely cowl back. The wedding dress is from the late 19th century, again in a beautiful patterned silk. Behind the exhibits you can see Liberty fabrics displayed.
I was impressed with the examples from the 1940s, especially the one of the left. The flowers in the dress had been carefully cut out, backed, zig zagged around the edges and arranged into a necklace/collar. A great idea worth copying, perhaps? Also I really like the textiles here (in the foreground) – black really makes the colours stand out and the mid blue with yellow, red and turquoise is also very striking, especially when compared to some of the wishy-washy apron-y styles behind.
There were some great examples from the 1960s too. The oriental influence is very clear in the lovely deep pink jacket on the left. The brightly coloured dresses in the middle are set off with a matching head scarf. I like the simple shapes and bold colourways.
By the 1970s the colour palette is getting more muted and a bit too brown for my liking although I like the style of the “peasant”, “cossack” and “gypsy” clothes; the empire line, the midi length dresses and the importatnt sleeves. I also like the use of two or three different patterns.
The exhibition closes at the end of February and I would recommend it, if you are in London. Unlike the knitwear exhibition (also based on the collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield) you were allowed to take pictures. This really makes an exhibition for me. It is like taking something away that you can refer to later. And share on Instagram or your blog.
I hope you like the pictures. Did you ever have a Liberty dress? I thought these three were special.