Liberty (department store)
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|Founder(s)||Arthur Lasenby Liberty|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
|Products||Quality & luxury goods|
|Services||Offering innovative and eclectic designs to the public.|
Liberty is a department store on Regent Street, based in the West End shopping district of Central London. The department store sells a wide range of luxury goods including women’s, men’s and children’s fashion, cosmetics and fragrances, jewellery, accessories, homeware, furniture, stationery and gifts. Liberty is known for its floral and graphic prints.
Liberty’s third and fourth floors showcase innovative designs from famous gifting and homeware brands such as Ibride, Moorcroft, Emma Bridgewater, Mason Cash, Rob Ryan, House of Hackney, Rory Dobner and Tom Dixon. The third floor’s central atrium is home to the Liberty Haberdashery department and is dedicated to the Liberty Art Fabrics collection, which introduces new designs and reused updated prints each season.
Early history 
Arthur Lasenby Liberty was born in Chesham, Buckinghamshire in 1843. He was employed by Messrs Farmer and Rogers in Regent Street in 1862, the year of the International Exhibition at Kensington in London. By 1874, inspired by his 10 years of service, Arthur decided to start a business of his own, which he did the next year.
With a £2,000 loan from his future father-in-law, Arthur Liberty accepted the lease of half a shop at 218a Regent Street with only three staff members.
The shop opened during 1875 selling ornaments, fabric and objets d'art from Japan and the East. Within eighteen months Arthur Liberty had repaid the loan and acquired the second half of 218 Regent Street. As the business grew, neighbouring properties were bought and added.
In 1885, 142–144 Regent Street was acquired and housed the ever-increasing demand for carpets and furniture. The basement was named the Eastern Bazaar, and was the vending place for what was described as "decorative furnishing objects". He named the property Chesham House after the place in which he grew up. The store became the most fashionable place to shop in London and Liberty fabrics were used for both clothing and furnishings. Some of its clientele was exotic, and included famous Pre-Raphaelite artists.
In 1884 Liberty introduced the costume department into the Regent Street store, directed by Edward William Godwin (1833–86). Godwin was a distinguished architect. He was a founding member of the Costume Society in 1882. He and Arthur Liberty created in-house apparel to challenge the fashions of Paris.
During the 1890s Arthur Lasenby Liberty built strong relationships with many English designers. Many of these designers practised the artistic styles known as Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau (New Art in French), and Liberty helped develop Art Nouveau through his encouragement of such designers. The company became associated with this new style, to the extent that in Italy, Art Nouveau became known as the Stile Liberty, after the London shop.
The store became one of the most prestigious in London.
The Tudor revival building was built so that trading could continue while renovations were being completed on the other premises and in 1924 this store was constructed from the timbers of two ships: HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan. The frontage on Great Marlborough Street is the same length as the Hindustan. It is a Grade II* listed building.
The emporium was designed by Edwin Thomas Hall and his son Edwin Stanley Hall. They designed the building at the height of the 1920s fashion for Tudor revival. The shop was engineered around three light wells that formed the main focus of the building. Each of these wells was surrounded by smaller rooms to create a homely feel. Many of the rooms had fireplaces and some still exist.
The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner was very critical of the building's architecture, saying: "The scale is wrong, the symmetry is wrong. The proximity to a classical façade put up by the same firm at the same time is wrong, and the goings-on of a store behind such a façade (and below those twisted Tudor chimneys) are wrongest of all".
Arthur Lasenby Liberty died in 1917, seven years before the completion of his shops.
Post War 
Liberty, during the 1950s, continued its tradition for fashionable and eclectic design. All departments in the shop had a collection of both contemporary and traditional designs. New designers were promoted and often included those still representing the Liberty tradition for handcrafted work.
During the 1960s, extravagant and Eastern influences once again became fashionable, as well as the Art Deco style, and Liberty adapted its furnishing designs from its archive.
Nowadays Liberty sells fashions, cosmetics, accessories, gifts etc. in addition to its homewares and furniture, both instore and online.
Liberty has its own team of window dressers and is known for imaginative and often surreal window displays, especially during Christmas time.
Since 1988, Liberty has had a subsidiary in Japan which sells Liberty-branded products in major Japanese shops. It also sells Liberty fabrics to international and local fashion stores with bases in Japan.
Liberty has a long history of artistic and inspiring collaborative projects – from William Morris and Gabriel Dante Rossetti in the nineteenth century to Yves Saint Laurent and Dame Vivienne Westwood in the twentieth.
See also 
Alison Adburgham, Liberty's - A biography of a shop, George Allen and Unwin (1975)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Liberty of London|
- The official website of the department store sells women's fashion, men's fashion, accessories, luxury gifts, homeware and fabrics.
- Arthur Lasenby Liberty and the Evolution of the Liberty Style
- Examples of the Liberty Style in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
- Liberty at the Vintage Fashion Guild Label Resource
- Vogue reports Sloane St store sold & business to transferred to Regent Street's newly made-over store
- 11/6/2001 Daily Telegraph: Liberty store owner plans £4m revamp