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Liberty (department store)

Liberty is a well known store in Great Marlborough Street in central London, England at the heart of the West End shopping district. It was founded by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in 1875 to sell ornaments, fabrics and miscellaneous art objects from Japan and the Far East.

History

Liberty & Co. first catered for an eclectic mixture of popular styles, but then went on to develop a fundamentally different style closely linked to the aesthetic movement of the 1890s and Art Nouveau. The company became synonymous with this new style to the extent that in Italy, Art Nouveau became known as Stile Liberty after the London shop. Liberty still has a distinctive style and produces some of its own fabrics.

Architecture

Its building fronts Great Marlborough Street and is one of the most prominent Tudor revival Arts and Crafts buildings in London. It is a Grade II* listed building. The timbers used in the construction of the building (built in 1924 by architects Edwin T. Hall and his son Edwin S. Hall) were taken from two British naval ships, HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan. Unlike a typical large department store, the shop has resisted the trend for suspended ceilings and corporate display fittings. It retains the original Tudor Revival detailing (with some typical 1930s touches) inside as well as out. The interior is split up into a series of relatively small rooms, arranged around several windowless atria, which are lit by glazed roofs and have wooden balconies at each level. There are stairs and decorative lifts instead of escalators.

Retail activity

The shop sells up to date fashions, cosmetics, accessories, gifts etc. in addition to its homewares and furniture.

Liberty has its own team of window dressers and is known for imaginative and often surreal window displays, especially at Christmas.

Since 1988, Liberty has had a subsidiary in Japan which sells Liberty branded products in leading Japanese shops. It also sells Liberty fabrics to international and local fashion brands with bases in Japan.

See also

References

Alison Adburgham, Liberty's - A biography of a shop, George Allen and Unwin (1975)

External links

Original Liberty objects in museums

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