Job title: Oriental Carpet and Furniture Buyer
Years at Liberty: Since the ark
Favourite Liberty moment: Buyer’s trips around the world
How do you feel about being on Liberty of London? Great! I love showing people my department here at Liberty
For many of our customers, the rugs and carpets on the 4th floor are an essential stop. Famous as the department that carries Arthur Liberty’s original vision, the store has a long tradition in all things Oriental. Bruce is now the man responsible for ensuring only the best reaches the shop floor, travelling all over the world to source the unique, wonderful and covetable one-off pieces. We asked Bruce to talk us through one of his recent trips.
Where did you go on your most recent trip?
Iran. There was a huge exhibition happening in Tehran, I’ve been going there for years. The rugs have already arrived; we have some really good Kashgai pieces, they are a nomadic group from the South of Iran. Also some very old Turkeman pieces from Turkmenistan.
Did you see anything you hadn’t seen before?
With what I do, everything is one-off and handmade so every trip is an experience. Unlike the other buyers in the building, I can’t go with a preconceived idea about what it is I want. You hope for things, but you have to be a lot more open minded. I was hoping this time to see really fine silks and I found them, which was really good, but the essence of the trip was really to see how the carpet industry in Iran is at the moment.
Is there anything that you always look for?
It must be handmade for Liberty, we don’t stock anything else. Preferably it will be an old item, but what we’re after is the unusual. What we’re about as a stockist is not whether something fits in with today’s colour schemes, it’s all about the individual rug. It’s a constant search – in order to buy 500 pieces I maybe go through 50,000. What we look for in an old piece is the pedigree and also the condition. And obviously price!
Watch Bruce in #LibertyofLondon on Channel 4 at 9pm on Monday 9th December
Bruce’s current 4th floor favourites:
1. Antique Afghan rug made by the Chachangi tribe 124cm x 106cm, £1195
2. Bone inlaid box from Delhi, £575
3. Ethiopian lidded bowl, £75
4. Moroccan pot from the Twareg tribe with henna decoration, £55
We hope you’re ready for the second episode of ‘Liberty of London‘, Channel 4‘s fly-on-the-wall documentary about our beloved store in the heart of Soho, airing tonight at 9pm. So far you have all loved meeting the characters and employees in the first episode, and tonight you get to know some of the pinnacle people a little more with more trials and tribulations that are just part of everyday life here at Liberty.
You’ll also get to meet our wonderful head of press and communications, Kate (pictured above with our Managing Director Ed Burstell and Head of Fashion Stephen Ayers. She and her hard working press team work tirelessly around the clock to ensure everything runs smoothly for our business, and that both customers and clients walk away with good experience of the store and what we can offer.
We caught up with Kate to find out just what she’s got her eye on for Christmas this year.
“I’m a big fan of self gifting at Christmas. Very indulgent, I know, but you’ve worked hard all year and deserve a treat don’t you? It’s also the perfect way to ensure you get exactly what you want!”
1. Richard Nicoll Stella Printed Silk Dress, £415.00
“I will be swanning round in this Richard Nicoll dress in between Christmas and New Year, using its diaphanous and forgiving cut to mask all food and wine excesses.”
2. Cire Trudon Abd El Khader La Grande Bougie Candle, £385.00
“I’m going to buy this giant Cire Trudon candle for a few of my pals and also put it on my list to Santa. The smell is so bewitching and will mingle perfectly with the wafts of pine needles and over excitement Christmas always brings.”
3. Liberty London Iphis Zip Pouch, £95.00
“This little beauty should help me with my New Years resolution to get my finances in order, or at least provide a place where I can store my receipts.”
4. Frederic Malle Carnal Flower 100ml, £210.00
“I always think fragrance is a nice gift for someone who is hard to buy for (hint, hint) and this is my favourite. I am also really into the new limited edition Liberty print box, which Mr Frederic Malle himself chose from our print archive to represent Carnal Flower visually. What’s not to love about that?”
5. Anna Sheffield Rose Gold Pavé Champagne Diamond Licol Ring, £1,440.00
“How major is this ring by Anna Sheffield? Almost too major is the answer! I love how Ms Sheffield uses delicate gemstones and precious metals in her work, but in an almost irreverent way. I’m going to rock this on my index finger and love showing it off… Which reminds me I must book a festive manicure at Margaret Dabbs!”
6. John Derian English Padlock Mini Glass Tray, £59.95
“I love this whimsical little trinket tray by John Derian. It’s the perfect thing to bring order to my chaotic dressing table. I’m going to put tomorrow’s jewellery out on it every night before bed.”
7. Givenchy Leopard Print Ponyskin Shoulder Bag, £1,125.00
“I like how this Givenchy bag is very uptown at first glance, but then when you take in the cross body chain and the claw fastening its very downtown too. I’m taking this to all my Yuletide festivities and matching my jewellery and nail polish to its rose gold chain strap.”
8. NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in Mexican Rose, £17.50
“These Nars lip pencils are a marvel and make for great stocking fillers. I haven’t tried this shade yet but I’m hoping someone might buy it for me.”
For lots more incredible and thoughtful gifting ideas, shop our collection of hand picked gift edits.
Calling all collectors! Kenzo has joined forces with Liberty to create an exclusive, limited edition range of scarves this season. The best selling Liberty Art Fabric ‘Tree of Life’ print – first launched in 1976 – has been updated with Kenzo’s signature tiger motif to create a covetable accessory with a combination of classic and iconic design. The flowering tree is based on traditional Persian designs symbolising fertility with its exotic fruits, flowers and creatures – a suitable setting for the ferocious tiger synonymous with Kenzo’s 1970 jungle themed boutique.
Get them before they go! Shop the collection.
Find out more.
This season, our vast emporium of unique and wonderful treasures and designs from all over the world celebrates its heritage and eclectic collections in the form of a special keepsake. ‘Liberty: British Colour Pattern‘ is a lavishly illustrated book that takes a look into the vaults and archives of our great store and explores the history of our remarkable range of products and prints. Including previously unseen photographs of pieces buried deep in our extensive archive, the book features 135 years of Liberty’s most iconic and groundbreaking textile prints, as well as its collaborations with contemporary artists, fashion designers and illustrators.
Head of Design for the Liberty Design Studio, Emma Mawston, was one of the contributors to the book. We caught up with her to find out how she helped the publishers and authors gather content from the archives and the Design Studio to retell the history of Liberty print.
“This is a historic album of pattern and design for all those who treasure anything artistic and inspiring – especially those who love Liberty. I found the early parts of the book fascinating and learnt wondrous things about Liberty that I was unaware of. It is a work of art to be read over and over again, and each time you pick up on something that you may have missed in previous perusal.
On pages 68 to 87 you’ll find my fashion fabrics. We started with hand printed colourways found in my attic, complete with peeling off paint (as we often painted over and over colourways to achieve the desired colour combination). We became masters of colour mixing and discovered which tints mixed best with which. Purple lake was a great base colour. I delved back fifteen years to pull out past collections to give an insight into the brief surrounding each. The most important and relevant collections which most represented each concept were then chosen to be published.
The first collaborator I worked with was Grayson Perry for autumn/ winter 2009, and I can’t think of a more amazing artist to have worked with. Not only did Grayson come up with amazing designs never seen before at Liberty or anywhere else, he also worked each design into perfect repeat by hand. The majority of textile designers struggle to do this. It is very fitting that two pages of the book are dedicated to Grayson where readers can view his sketches of original artworks for the prints Cranford, Sissy and Flo, which are usually only accessible to Liberty and high end customers. Since then we have worked with the most amazing collaborators, not all mentioned in this book but all contributing to the look and ethos of Liberty Art Fabrics.
Just about every designer who has worked within the Liberty Art Fabrics Design Studio has a least one design within the ‘New Direction’ section, representing the diversity of print within this era. We are lucky to be able to draw and research in the most relevant way for each collection, creating original prints from hand drawn artwork.”
Buy the book Liberty: British Colour Pattern