Lectures are held at the Methodist Church in Kingsbridge and on Zoom at 2:30pm normally on the last Wednesday of each month. They last for 1 - 1½ hours including a question and answer session at the end.
The Art of Liberty: Branding a lifestyle
Ann Buruma      Wed 24th September 2014
  Liberty of London is described in today’s encyclopaedic web pages as a department store selling quality and luxury goods which breathe innovative and eclectic designs. Our lecturer at the Society’s September meeting, Anna Baruma, took us back through the archive to the early days of the business in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Arthur Lasenby Liberty spent the first ten years of his working life as a salesman in Regent Street, learning about the foibles of fashion and making useful contacts. In 1875 he opened a small shop on Regent Street at ‘East India House’, a tongue in cheek statement of his hopes for the future. He timed his entry well: the growth of a well-heeled middle class had created a demand for interior furnishings, silks, fabrics, porcelain, glass, carpets, dresses, silver, pewter and jewellery. Drawing upon a mix of oriental influences, Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement he fed the contemporary taste so effectively that by 1888 Liberty employed more than 400 staff and was extending its premises along Regent Street.

The store commissioned a variety of designers but most were anonymous. The Liberty label was the standard and spoke of a certain style. Arthur Lasenby used catalogues, exhibitions and advertising specialists to promote his wares to the right people in this country and abroad: Isadora Duncan, Ellen Terry and Oscar Wilde called in. The Brighton Pavilion owed some of its interior decoration to the business and a shop was opened in Paris in 1890.

The London flagship later adopted the 1920’s enthusiasm for Tudor revival although the founder died in 1917 before its completion. Liberty retained its family links until 2000. Arthur Lasenby Liberty was clearly an adroit businessman with an eye for fashion and a gift for selecting the right people to carry the store forward.