Shukla’s Liberty story starts in 1973 when she started as a temporary member of staff who was immediately asked to stay on. Since then, she has become a self-confessed fixture of the home department on the 4th floor in-store. She has a thousand stories about her time here, so we got her to pick her favourites.
Job title: Sales Associate (I’ve never wanted to do anything else)
Years of service at Liberty: 40
Favourite Liberty moment: The Centenary celebrations, and the wonderful Japan at Liberty exhibition in 1980, there was nothing else in London like it at the time.
How do you feel about being on Liberty of London? Proud to represent Liberty?
I love Liberty and I love to talk about it!
What does it mean to you to work at Liberty?
Now I feel like this place is my real home, I love it so much. They all gave me so much love here – customers, management, owners… every one of them.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve served?
Katherine Hepburn. She was a hilarious and lovely lady. She used to call me her little Indian princess!
Has anyone recognised you since the show?
Since the Channel 4 trailer has been out people keep coming and saying, ‘Oh Shukla, you’re famous. You’re a celebrity!’ I bump into people all the time in restaurants and in the street.
Liberty of London premiers on Channel 4 on Monday 2 December at 9pm.
This November, Liberty has teamed up with the much-loved beauty site Get The Gloss to bring you a season of brainy beauty features. Conceived by Susannah Taylor and Sarah Vine – both journalists with a wealth of expertise and experience – Get The Gloss is an online directory of the best products and services in the business.
We caught up with Susannah to find out a little more about her beauty credentials, the craziest beauty trial she’s ever put herself through, and whether some beauty tips are truth or myth.
Tell us about yourself and how you came to be a beauty editor and one half of Get the Gloss?
I first started working in beauty when I was about 23 (I am now 37). As a teenager, I dreamed of being a fashion editor as I have always been crazy about clothes and am very arty. But when I left art college (Central St Martins School of Art) I went to work on an avant garde fashion magazine called Scene where they had just fired their beauty editor. As a beauty junkie I said I’d do the pages and I never looked back. After that I went on to be beauty editor at Glamour and then went to Vogue as Beauty and Health Editor.
Looking back I’m really happy I didn’t become a fashion editor. I think I was destined to do this job and I often put a fashion spin on beauty anyway – I love watching trends and being ahead of the curve in every aspect. The beauty industry is actually quite small so we all know each other, and generally the people within the industry are incredibly nice. Creating Get the Gloss is really a dream come true as I have much more of a license to be creative than on an already-established magazine – it’s feels very new and exciting. We have been given free reign to create a site that we feel the woman out there really wants and that’s hugely satisfying.
What areas of health and beauty do you specialise in, and why?
Get the Gloss covers all aspects of beauty and health from brows to bunions, and we have writers aged from 17 – 71. Personally I love it all. If I had to choose I’d say I am a make-up magpie – anything that promises me to look glowy and sunkissed is always a winner in my book – and I am forever on the hunt for the Holy Grail of mascara. I have stacks and stacks of make-up at home that I just can’t get rid of in case I want it one day, as well as stacks of nail varnishes.
Over the last few years I have also got properly fit, and so fitness and health are now an area I love exploring and learning more about. I am also now a total expert in stylish fitness wear – I have a huge drawer of it! I can’t rule out skincare too, I love amazing face creams and wonderful aromatherapy oils. I would say I’m more into trying products than treatments – it’s a myth that we have treatments all the time. I’m sure you’ve had a facial more recently than me.
Can you tell us how Get the Gloss came to be? What makes it better than other women’s websites?
I had a blog called Get the Gloss – I started it as I had so many amazing contacts in the beauty and health industry from my time at Glamour and Vogue, and I decided I needed to share them and their talents. Soon afterwards Sarah Vine approached me to be editor of a website she wanted to create. I started working on that too and it soon became clear that I wouldn’t have time for blog, and so we decided to call the site ‘Get the Gloss’. It launched in October 2012.
I think what sets it apart from other websites is that from the start we set out to be an authority in our industry – to have all the best writers in our field, top experts, daily news, amazing shoots and videos. We wanted to bring these experts to the masses – straight to your desktop. We try to be totally innovative and always think outside the box – you can do things like chat live to experts on the site and we have a LIVE LUNCH forum on Fridays where you can ask top experts questions.
Who do you work with or ask to contribute to GTG?
It is our aim to work with the best experts within the beauty and health industry, whether they be an osteopath, a hair stylist or the best fitness trainer. You can find them all in our Little Book of Experts. I always work with top make-up artists, hair stylists, as well as producers to do our videos and shoots. I have a very creative, visual eye and am passionate about creating beautiful, modern-looking visuals.
We also pride ourselves on having an incredible bank of top writers from Sarah Vine, Christa-D’Souza and Imogen-Edwards-Jones to Rosie Green and Peta Bee.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of beauty?
It’s not really crazy but more mortifying…. When I first started in the industry a spa opened at a big hotel in London and I went along for the launch not knowing that we were expected to go swimming. I remember the feisty spa owner saying “Just get in naked,” and when I pulled a face she said, “Don’t be silly, don’t be such a prude we’ve seen it all before”. So another journalist and I both got it in stark naked in front of the PRs, and we were literally dying of embarrassment. I’m sure I went the colour of a tomato. I didn’t know the other journalist at the time but we are great friends now and we still laugh our heads off about it to this day.
Can you give us both a myth and a truth from the beauty industry?
My myth is that using lots of product is good for your skin. I really believe that we can actually overload our skin. The point of the skin is that it is a barrier – its aim is to keep things out! – Using lots of layers of products and piling too much on can really upset it. My mantra is ‘the simpler the better.’ You need a good moisturiser, eye make-up remover and a cleanser. Oh and a serum too. That’s it.
A truth from the industry – do not over-pluck your brows. Not only does it look wrong when you over-pluck them but often our eyebrow hairs only have a certain life – if you pluck them out enough times they don’t grow back. This is true and there are many women out there who have lived to regret it.
Which products can you not live without and why?
I rarely walk out of the house without the following:
. Mascara – Being fair, I look a little like a boiled egg without it! Mascara makes me feel glamorous every day.
. Bronzer – I feel very pale without it and use some form of bronzer nearly every day of my life whether it be bronzing powder or self-tan.
. Blusher – My default complexion is one colour of paleness, so cream blusher brings a much needed flush of health to my cheeks.
. Concealer – For disguising under-eye bags, covering up blemishes and doubling as a foundation if I need it to – I won’t leave the house without it.
What is your ultimate beauty tip from all the hundreds you have learned over the years?
I know it’s boring and you’ve heard it before, but sleep! I look a million times better (and feel a million times better) if I’ve had enough sleep. Sadly I don’t get enough, so I say thank God for beauty products!
You can catch up on all the brilliant beauty edits and content from Susannah and Sarah on Liberty.co.uk. Discover their all-time favourite beauty products, solutions and make-up from the Liberty beauty hall that will truly revolutionise your beauty regime.
Visit Get The Gloss for more outstanding beauty tips and advice from the experts.
We hope you managed to watch the first episode of Liberty of London on Channel 4 last night! It’s very exciting to see our beautiful store, all dressed up for Christmas, appearing on the nation’s screens – we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! One of the stars of the episode is our delightful receptionist, Judy. We caught up with the glamorous Front of House to find out more about her role at Liberty, having a print named after her and her top tips for Christmas.
Job Title: Receptionist
Years of service at Liberty: Just under 15 years.
Favourite Liberty moment: There are so many favourite moments; this for a start! I never look in the past, I try to look forward all the time, I think that’s how I am. On the spot I can’t think of anything in particular, but everyday there’s something happening, there’s always something dramatic happening. I just make fun; you’ve got to have a sense of humour.
How do you feel about being on Liberty of London?
I love it! Bit scary, very daunting, but for me it’s like a once in a lifetime, so I’m making the most of it! A lot of people are scared of the cameras and it’s funny because all of the people that you think are going to be all bravado are not, I’m quite surprised. Often you think, why did I say that? You forget what you’ve said; I felt like Ricky Gervais sometimes, you know when he runs out of things to say and he sort of looks up and he brings in everything, doesn’t he? That’s how I felt.
What is the most exciting part of the run up to Christmas at Liberty?
All the different people. I see the suppliers first when they come in, and just everything’s exciting about it. The store looks absolutely beautiful and I long to see the windows, which are fantastic this year. I must say, I come down Argyll Street and they look stunning, I think it’s one of the best times really, it’s like a starburst and I think that’s liberty all-round: a big star!
You have a liberty print named after you; do you own anything in the print?
I keep forgetting that, you feel quite privileged. I didn’t have any knowledge of it until someone said, “We’ve got a print named after you here”. I didn’t know how the design was going to be, what colours or anything. They made up this lovely blouse for me and they gave me some of the material and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to go down in the archives! When I’m dead and buried, I’m going to put the Liberty print in my coffin. I won’t be there, but there’ll be this skeleton there with the Liberty print! So there’s a legacy there which I think I’m privileged to have, really. I haven’t made anything from the fabric yet, but I’ll make little hankies, I like to make little hankies for people and I’ve given my grand-daughter some so she can make something.
Your baking is legendary around Liberty, what’s the most impressive cake you’ve ever made for the office?
Is it really? Crikey! I usually make cupcakes because if I made a large cake there wouldn’t be enough slices for everybody – some people have big slices and so we’d probably only serve about half a dozen people! I make lots of cupcakes and I like to do my own thing with them. I think they all go down pretty well. People like the chocolate ones with the lumps of truffle inside. I like doing little surprises inside, but I also just like doing lemon drizzles. Plain lemon drizzles with crunchy lemon topping – that is a classic really.
You are very involved in Liberty’s charitable initiatives and there’s been a lot going on this year. Which activity do you feel has been most effective in raising funds and awareness?
Everybody has a charity which touches their heart and for me that’s the homeless people. I sat there one day and I thought; I can’t imagine anything worse. When you go home at night on those cold, cold days and you walk from the bus stop or tube station and know you’re going to a nice warm house, it must be the most awful feeling to think you’ve got nowhere to go. When you speak to people and they tell you of the life they used to have, you realise it could happen to any of us. So that’s where my heart is, I can’t bear to see people cold or hungry.
We’re having a big towel drive at Christmas. When I rang up the charity, ‘Crisis’, and asked them about a coat drive, they said they had plenty, but what they did need were towels. They feed 20,000 people over the Christmas period, and when they come and have their dinners, they give them a shower or a bath and they have a medical check. So they really need towels, I’d never thought of that.
Your desk faces the portraits of Sir Arthur Liberty and Lady Emma Liberty. How do you think they’d feel about the TV show?
Well, I think Arthur would love it because he was always ahead of his time, and I just think he would absolutely love it! He just wanted everything to be different and didn’t want to go with the flow of existing fashion. He wanted to create new ones and I think he was that sort of person. I mean obviously when he was born, television wasn’t around, but I think he’d be loving it now. Emma always looks so stern, but I think she was his, you know, partner for life, and I think she would absolutely love it too. I always think they’re still here!
As the face of Liberty’s Head Office, and the first person most visitors meet, what keeps you enthusiastic in your job?
I’m a very social person, and I love speaking to people. I talk too much! Even as a little girl my mum was always telling me off: “Don’t talk to strange people!” But I always find people lovely and I don’t feel they’re dangerous. Obviously some people are, but I’ve always been like it. I suppose it’s in your genes, maybe that’s why I’m like I am. I’ve got Irish blood in me, I think the Irish like talking! My mother was the same, she knew everybody even when she got very old. The place where she used to go in Palmers Green for a little cup of tea everyday (she used to waddle down there) made her a lovely birthday cake once. So you know, I think I take after her I suppose.
What’s the most amusing thing to have happened in Liberty’s reception?
There are so many things! When I was originally in this building, I had a visitor who asked to leave something with me, I said it was fine, but when I looked, it was a whole salmon – a whole fresh salmon! It was wrapped up and I thought, ‘Oh that’s alright.’ So he went out, and then this dreadful smell started – awful! It got to five o’clock and he still hadn’t picked it up and I thought, ‘I can’t believe this. I’ve got this great, massive salmon stuck on my desk and he’s never going to come back. What am I going to do with it?’ Eventually he did come back, but I thought people do take advantage when you’re a smiley person!
Finally, any Christmas tips for our readers?
I think over the years I’ve cooked so many Christmas dinners and it’s best to not get panicky about it. If anything goes wrong it doesn’t matter, you know? Have a laugh. I’ve had my mother and my mother-in-law having arguments; we’ve had sprouts flying all over the kitchen and we’ve had to calm everything down! It’s best just to take it in your stride, because it is a stressful time, especially if you’re the host. Just enjoy it. If the dinner’s late, so be it. It’s you that’s bothered, nobody else, they’re all happy having a drink and opening their presents, so take everything in your stride. If it goes wrong, it goes wrong.
Don’t forget to check back to read more from the Liberty staff featured on the show over the next couple of weeks!
Liberty of London episode 2 will be on Channel 4 on Monday 9 December at 9pm.
Visit the Channel 4 website to catch up on any episodes you missed.
To celebrate the launch of Levi’s Made & Crafted we caught up with the label’s Design Director Miles Johnson to find out more about the brand’s autumn/winter 2013 collection of high end denim and casualwear.
Tell us about the autumn/winter 2013 menswear collection.
Before designing the autumn/winter 2013 collection we took a road trip to Lake Huron, a drive north of busy, industrial Detroit. We were inspired by their lakeside surroundings – the colours of the lake, the rocks, the structures in constant repair—and the varied textures of the traditional woollen and cotton fabrics one needs to live in this landscape. The resulting collection draws many of its colours, prints, patterns and fabric concepts from the elements the designers encountered on this quiet American adventure. At the same time, it pulls in a myriad of other influences from the modern American frontier and playfully combines the old with the new, the high with the low, and the wild with the subdued. Finely woven yarn-dyed knits are crafted into casual T-shirts for men. Silks are blended with cottons to create soft but durable tops for women. Natural indigo is used to dye winter-weight fabrics. Many of the women’s silhouettes radically challenge the conventions of proportion and symmetry. Performance-enhancing fabric technologies make an appearance but remain invisible. This Levi’s Made and Crafted collection, like those past and those to come, dares to go where the Levi’s brand has never been before, offering up a fresh new take on modern American luxury Levi’s style.
Could you tell us about the difference between Levi’s Vintage Clothing, Levi’s Red Tab and Levi’s Made & Crafted?
Levi’s Vintage Clothing celebrates our history by reproducing of some of our favourite garments, looking back through 140 years of archival clothing. Levi’s Red Tab is for everyone and is now very accessible. Levi’s Made and Crafted is more directional and experimental with fabrications while retaining a strong Levi’s character. There are four things that Levi’s Made and Crafted is famous for:
1. Using only the finest materials and fabrics: we develop the most interesting fabrics with the best mills from around the world
2. Crafting with care: every garment is cut, sewn and finished using the best methods available
3. Obsessing over the details: we obsess about the little things because they make a big difference
4. Indigo and denim expertise: we are Levi’s. We invented the denim game and we are still the best at it
Why did Levi’s launch Levi’s Made & Crafted?
Because we wanted to provide a more modern premium collection for a consumer who wanted more from the brand.
All three brands are different (Levi’s Red Tab, Levi’s Vintage Clothing and Levi’s Made & Crafted). What is the common ethos that binds all three together under the Levi’s umbrella?
We have a strong identity as a brand and a tried-and-tested wardrobe that works for us. Sticking with this and some of the recognisable details and fits, each division of the brand works out its own take.
Could you describe the man who would shop from Levi’s Made & Crafted?
Modern, understated, Levi’s-minded, with a stylish edge.
You’ve been the head of Levi’s Vintage Clothing for nearly 10 years. Does what you do for Levi’s Vintage Clothing inform/inspire your creations for Levi’s Made & Crafted, and vice versa?
Yes, it all comes from the same place at the end of the day, but sometimes you find very modern constructions and details which can be reworked and inform our Levi’s Made & Crafted line.
You also work on exhibitions for Levi’s. Where do you find the time? What’s your secret?
I don’t know. I just love what I do and somehow manage to fit it all in. I couldn’t do it without my team, who make it all happen and give me the time to work on as many different designs as I possibly can.
Your love for denim, when and how did that start?
It’s been going on for a long time. I started wearing Levi’s jeans when I was 7 years old and haven’t stopped wearing them. When I went to St Martins to study fashion I used denim and realised that my passion for the fabric and its design was what I felt most excited about.
What’s it like heading up the lines? What’s the best thing about it and what’s the biggest challenge?
It’s great working on the premium lines (including Levi’s RED). I love the challenge of what we do with building different collections for different people within the identity of the brand. Many people grew up with Levi’s. It’s good to keep building on the things we’re good at.
What’s next for Levi’s Made & Crafted? What do you want the world to know about Levi’s Made & Crafted?
We are working on showing experimental pieces in the future men’s and women’s lines; mixing fabrications and including technology and performance in the mix with a great denim fit portfolio and a wide range of washes.
Shop our online edit of Levi’s Made & Crafted online or visit us in-store.
October saw the irrepressible Stephen Dweck travel from his native Brooklyn to the Liberty jewellery hall to coincide with the arrival of his latest collection in-store. Now available to buy online, Dweck’s designs take unusual, carefully sourced gemstones and turn raw materials into pieces of art ranging from fashion-friendly and old Hollywood-style glamour to the avant-garde.
Influenced as an early designer by Matisse, Dweck’s aim is to ‘brilliantly combine art and jewellery to stunning effect. With a background in couture fashion and his work now displayed in prestigious establishments such as the Smithsonian Institute Fashion Archives in Washington D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, plus numerous collaborations including Oscar de la Renta and Absolut vodka, the line between Dweck’s sculptural designs and the art world is a thin one.
We caught up with the designer himself to talk all things Liberty, all things London and all things Adam; the little Japanese beetle that features on all his one-of-a-kind pieces.
What were the highlights of your trip to London?
I truly enjoyed the fashion statements of the Brits; riding the tube from place to place you could see how the passengers were true to their style. The men were dapper in their slim looks while the women were co-ordinated beautifully. Something different to the NYC subway rides I’ve taken.
I loved the exhibit of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London; the collection has always been an inspiration to me. On my way to the Tate museum I discovered the food market near Tower Bridge – great fish and chips! I also enjoyed the many other food purveyors, especially the shop that sold mustards and had them arranged beautifully by colour.
What was your favourite part of Liberty?
It was like walking into a glamorous kaleidoscope, a magical experience of a life’s worth of dreams one would have for fashion. One of my own dreams is that my closet would look like Liberty.
What’s on your wishlist?
I enjoyed the custom shoes area, creating a bespoke pair would be on my list.
What are your favourite pieces that you have made for yourself?
A natural Arizona turquoise nugget and Sterling silver ring, and a Brazilian rutilated quartz mineral set in Sterling silver made into a belt buckle on an alligator strap.
Do you have a favourite ‘fashion moment’ from running your label?
Designing runway jewellery for couture designers Geoffrey Beene, Donna Karan and Oscar de la Renta.
Your jewellery is already displayed in prestigious museums around the world, do you have any more career goals?
I would love to be displayed at the Victoria and Albert museum one day.
Finally, Adam is quite the charmer…are you at all worried about him becoming more famous than you are?
No, we’re a team! He’s a master mould and the legend will always continue.
Shop an edit of the Stephen Dweck collection online.