Join us as we explore the history of the dress fabric prints featured in the latest Nike X Liberty collaboration
Whilst we wait with baited breath for the arrival of Nike X Liberty’s latest collection of printed footwear, we turn our attention to the iconic designs featured in the new SS14 range. Some of Nike’s most famous styles have been adorned with seasonal floral and paisley patterns, including the Nike Air Max, Internationalist and Dunk Sky Hi trainers. Though all three signature prints used have been given a modern, fresh blue colourway, this collection of patterns is steeped in Liberty’s design history. Lora, Anoosha and Crown are all either based on, or inspired by the rich heritage found in the Liberty archives. With references to the Aesthetic and Art Deco movements, these decorative designs hark back to a by-gone era, yet play up to some of this season’s hottest trends. Invest in these patterns to ease yourself into the oriental, floral and folk aesthetics synonymous with the SS14 trends.
Lora is based on William Morris’ prolific Willow design from 1874. Appealing to followers of the Aesthetic Movement, this print featured a repeated leaf pattern which was then applied to a range of wallpapers for interior decoration. The theme of the Willow tree and its leaves appears frequently in the oriental inspired objet d’art and furniture of the time. This pull to the East was an attempt to inject new life into the abhorred cheery, chocolate box homewares of the Victorian age, with beauty in nature a prominent visual theme throughout the movement. Liberty’s re-worked 1970s version, used in the Nike collaboration, is reminiscent of the blue and white china that became so popular in the 19th Century. It refers to the Chinoiserie designs of a different time, yet is very in keeping with summer’s fascination with all things Oriental.
Anoosha, originally Floral Blotch, is a typical 1930s floral, completed at Liberty’s Merton Abbey Mills print works. This small, stylised trail print is a good example of the designs of the time, when floral prints of this kind held prominence in women’s fashion. A more free-form style was adopted to produce designs closely allied with the Art Deco movement. Art Deco aimed to move away from more traditional, realistic representations of nature in an attempt to revise existing, outdated ideas about design. Women’s fashion at the time had revisited the romantic, with focus firmly back on the waist, and a neo-classical female figure. This transition can be attributed to the sombre mood the Depression, and was an attempt to regain some of the traditional values lost in the decadent 1920s. Emphasis was placed on the great outdoors and healthy living, with fashion focussed on a range of wearable “sportswear” pieces. Today, you can celebrate this rich heritage with Nike’s Anoosha print trainers, whilst embracing the romantic and sports-luxe trends of the season.
Crown is based on various paisley-style block prints discovered in the Liberty archive. The Paisley motif originates from Persia and India, and has been documented to represent a stylised floral and cypress tree pattern. A symbol of life, a guardian against evil, and a representation of rebellion, this pattern has long been prominent in world-wide fashion history. Imports from colonised India in the 18th and 19th centuries, sparked an obsession amongst the British, which has remained throughout the decades. Notably, this instantly recognisable pattern was closely linked to the psychedelic hippy culture of the late 1960s and 1970s, whose followers turned to the east for spiritual succour and discovery. Today these designs are prevalent in this year’s folklore trend. Revel in this aesthetic with the patchwork and solid designs featured in Nike X Liberty’s new collection.
Shop the SS14 Nike Liberty collection from 7th April 2014, in store and online.
Discover Richard E Grant’s ‘signature in scent’, JACK perfume.
A labour of love and the realising of a lifelong passion, Richard E Grant has launched a new perfume, JACK. As a much in demand actor, writer and director, his head-first dive into the world of scent has been as intriguing as the finished product. We caught up with the man himself to get an insight into the notes, noses and David-and-Goliath style challenges of becoming a perfumer.
Who have you found the most inspirational from your perfume-making journey?
I have been shown such astonishing generosity during the past two years, none more so than from Anya Hindmarch, who first saw me with my head in a gardenia bush in the Caribbean and asked if I had ever thought of creating a fragrance, noticing that I ‘missiled’ my nose to everything in sight. Anya put me in touch with key people and has always encouraged, supported and advised me along the way, whenever I have wavered in my faith or been faced with obstacles.
Marigay Mckee also put me in contact with Roja Dove who ‘educated’ me by testing my nose on a huge variety of oils to get a sense of my ‘palette’. He has ceaselessly advised, cajoled and encouraged me to pursue my dream of producing a scent. Catherine Mitchell at IFF took me on and arranged for me to meet Gina Ritchie and Sarah Coonan at Liberty, who offered to give JACK an exclusive year-long deal, based on my describing the perfume I wanted to create and the quintessentially British styled packaging I had sketched out. They were prepared to take a leap of faith which was crucial in creating the JACK brand. ‘Nose’ Alienor Massenet who transformed my amateur passion into a professional perfume is the person with whom I’ve been able to share my lifelong compulsion to sniff everything, without laughing me out of the room!
What’s the most important thing you discovered about the world of scent?
Anya Hindmarch and Lyn Harris both advised me that ‘Passion is everything. It cannot be faked and this will sustain you through the tough times which you will inevitably face’. All of which has proved to be true, especially when an American ‘Goliath’ sized company sued me for the brand name JACK claiming it to be too like one of their products. The protracted and costly legalese sorely tested my faith, but mercifully they withdrew their suit at the 11th hour and I won the trademark ‘battle’. Perseverance and passion is required on a daily basis. As it’s entirely self-financed, I’ve learnt very quickly that detail is everything and to triple crosscheck every single aspect of the business.
Did you have a clear idea of the scent that you wanted before you started experimenting, or did it evolve slowly?
When I met professional ‘Nose’ Alienor Massenet, I un-pocketed my favourite ingredients onto a restaurant table which included lime, marijuana leaves, mandarin, vetiver grass, pepper, and gardenia petals, which gave her a very clear idea of the earthy, citrusy scent I had dreamt of combining.
Alienor then sent me samples over a period of months which I tested on the Liberty perfume selling team for their expert advice and input, to ensure that it didn’t replicate or remind them of a perfume already in existence. Bev, Ruth, Stuart and Gerry (Liberty’s fragrance team) were ruthlessly honest and along with my friends whom I ‘nose’ tested, we reduced it to a shortlist. Then in the middle of the night, I had a ‘Eureka’ moment when I mixed two of these ‘almost but not quite’ favourites and knew that this was JACK. Alienor obliged and created the formula.
Did you have to sacrifice any favourite smells along the way in order to get the perfect blend?
As Gardenia has proved historically impossible to extract and is therefore always a synthetic, I had to forgo trying to bottle its lightning-like power, but I wanted to create a perfume that had its heady, hypnotic qualities.
How does creating a perfume rank with your acting, writing and directing achievements?
Starting a business has been the real challenge, as I failed all my maths at school, so the bean counting aspects have almost done my head in. However, when it’s your own money, you learn very fast to sniff out who is trying to rip you off. It best equates with my experience of writing and directing my autobiographical film WAH-WAH – everything is personal. All the ingredients are sense and memory ‘triggers’ and I believe that only by making something acutely personal, can you hope to create an original. Every choice and decision, no matter how informed by expert guidance, is yours, so there is no place to ‘hide’. Which leaves you very vulnerable to criticism on the one hand, but also hugely rewarded when it is endorsed and praised on the other. Like acting, you are constantly told you won’t succeed when you start out and similarly many people were very sceptical about my embarking in the perfume business. In the last month prior to launch date, it’s felt a bit like being a migrating wildebeest attempting to navigate across the croc-infested Mara river, wondering whether I will make it to the other side in tact, as everyone wants a piece of flesh!
Who do you see wearing your scent?
From experience, I know that people generally remain loyal to a brand from a very young age, and I am no exception. The scent you choose when you’re a teenager or twenty-something is so bound up with your burgeoning sexuality and need to establish your own identity, that I hope my unisex scent finds favour with the exceptionally brand savvy young generation who aren’t bound by the traditional divisions between what is perceived as masculine or feminine.
How does the Liberty heritage complement your brand?
Liberty is a unique, stand-alone store that is famed for its individuality and great personal service. Not being on every high street ensures that you will find things here that can’t be found anywhere else. Idiosyncratic and individualistic, it is the perfect partner for my quintessentially British JACK brand. Everything worthwhile in Life is personal and the attention to detail at Liberty transmits to the customer. You experience the benefit of the ‘edit’ that the creative team who run Liberty make when you discover the variety of unique things to buy.
How does JACK perfume make you feel when you wear it yourself?
I have always believed that scent is a key part of your invisible wardrobe, armour and identity. If you’re feeling less than confident, smelling good instantly makes you feel better. Our sense of smell is the shortest synaptic leap in the brain to our memory and wearing JACK makes me feel ‘complete’ and confident. The reaction it engenders from friends and total strangers has been unequivocally positive. What more of JACK could I ask for?
Where do you see your perfume brand going in the future?
Like cooks who constantly think of mixing different ingredients, I am always dreaming of scent combinations and have big plans to expand the JACK brand if it finds favour with customers. I am currently developing a JACK candle and room diffuser in time for Christmas as well as a second perfume to launch next year.
Jack perfume is available to buy exclusively at Liberty
Visit the Liberty scarf hall on Saturday 29th March to get first-hand advice from guest stylist Lauren Brown.
Wondering how to wear that new season Alexander McQueen scarf? Head to the Liberty scarf hall this Saturday to meet guest stylist BNTL contributor and Gwan editor Lauren Brown.
From 2-4pm, Lauren will be in-store to help make those all-important sartorial decisions, add to your collection of luxe silk scarves or hunt out a last minute Mother’s day gift. Whether you want to channel Brit cool or upper east-side luxe, Lauren’s done the hard work so you don’t have to. Simply turn up and choose your favourite, then share your #LibertyScarfSelfie.
Read Lauren’s Musings on scarves in fashion:
Ever since scarves first graced the necks of Romans thousands of years ago, they have become a timeless accessory which transcend seasons and trends. While it’s safe to say their popularity has wavered since their heyday in the early to mid 20th century, scarves are weaving their way back into fashion.
At last month’s fashion weeks scarves were everywhere. At Burberry they were beautifully layered over coats and sheer dresses and asymmetrically tucked under belts. This gave the effect of a trailing streak of translucent print, adding a fluid feminine edge to shearling coats and trenches. Scarves also came in the form of more heavyweight shawls, which were slung over one shoulder and layered. Men weren’t left out either with scarves tied loosely around their shoulders or hung underneath blazers.
While at Chanel’s super market extravaganza we saw scarves tied onto the chain handles of shopping baskets, layered up with necklaces and co-ordinated with tops and coat linings of the same print. Also at Prada and Marc Jacobs thinner knitted scarves were tied to the side of the neck. At Jacobs’ previous show for S/S14, hair was tucked into scarves – a great non committal answer to a haircut!
On the subject of scarves, it’s difficult not to mention Versace, who in the nineties translated traditional scarf prints onto shirts, dresses, trousers jackets and even homeware -transforming a piece of silk into a total look and even a lifestyle. Versace is as popular as ever not only with its high-end clientele but also on the street after Migos’ unofficial Versace anthem last summer.
Whether you wear your scarf to flaunt your fashion tribe or as a wearable piece of art, they are a functional yet stylish must have for SS14, which epitomise chic. Scarves are statement pieces, which instantly inject a pop of colour and personality to transform a basic look. While statement necklaces have been a ‘key accessory’ for several seasons now, a scarf can be a nifty alternative when worn as soft jewellery. While throwing a scarf around your neck is easy and effortless, more intricate old school tying techniques have recently made a comeback. The sheer versatility of the scarf lies in the fact that you can knot, tie, fold or wrap it to create completely different looks, each with their own social and cultural relevance. Audrey Hepburn summed up the appeal of the scarf by saying ‘When I wear a silk scarf I never feel so definitely like a woman, a beautiful woman.’
As an award-winning paper cutting artist, Hina Aoyama was the perfect choice to help create a fabric representing the Japanese print department at Liberty. In collaboration with the in-house Liberty design team, Hina helped create the ‘Asaka’ print, part of the fourth floor story in the ‘Gallery of Prints’ Liberty fabric collection. Borrowing a design from one of her intricate scissor-cut creations, the reworked lotus print is a beautiful blend of oriental inspiration and British design.
The lotus print used in ‘Asaka’ is one of your most famous designs, what makes it so special?
This lotus is from my work ‘Immortal Lotus’. The concept behind it is to give my past memories a future by thinking of them. As a human being, we know well enough what we did, but never know what is going to happen, although it’s obvious that the past relates and connects to the future. In the piece you can see a dragonfly melting, showing that the time that has passed will never come back. It fades away, and we should hold onto memories while moving forward to live in the future.
Was there a particular theme you wanted to get across with your design for Liberty?
The beautiful ancient lotus grows in the mud; I find smartness and ambition in the Lotus.
What were the differences in creating a design for fabric compared to paper, did you need to adapt the design process?
My paper cutting work is only monochrome. Collaborating with Liberty was colourful, so I found new possibilities. In my monochrome work, I intend everyone to ‘see’ their own colour into the pieces. What Liberty did with my design is very unique, as the designers saw their own colours in the print.
What were your experiences of Liberty before creating the fabric, had you bought any Liberty fabric before?
These days almost all of my belongings are Liberty print! I really love it. I heard that this year a famous men’s brand is using Liberty print, I cannot wait to see it.
How did your designs evolve into the intricate creations that they are now?
Since 2000, when I started paper cutting, I have lived in the Alps and the Jura mountains. I think that all the themes in my work are related to the Earth’s problems: nature, human rights or animal protection.
How do you ensure that the traditional and the modern work together in your artwork?
I am proud to be Japanese-born and also pay respect to foreign culture, so I try to combine this together with my spirit and experience.
Will you be taking anything from the experience of creating a fabric back into your own work?
I can see many possibilities now.
Will you be making anything from your Liberty fabric?
I’m excited to have more things in Liberty print! I’m ordering a dress, and a bag. Someday I want to make a unique Yukata [traditional Japanese dress] with Liberty print.
Easter crafts with children’s accessories designer, Lisa Foreman
Children’s toys and accessories designer, Lisa Foreman, has put together an easy-to-follow guide to create your very own Liberty print rabbit, complete with pompom tail. Featured in issue 25 of inspirational sewing projects magazine, Mollie Makes, this design is the perfect past time for even novice sewers. Find out more about Lisa and follow her step-by-step tutorial below to fashion an adorable bunny friend in time for Easter.
Lisa’s enthusiasm for crafting began with lessons from her grandmother and aunt when she was eight. Since then she’s graduated from making a wardrobe of clothes for Strawberry Shortcake dolls to creating soft toys and homewares for her website, www.elske.co.uk. Particularly inspired by retro colours and Scandinavian design, she developed a range of animals and appliquéd pinafores after making a cat called Patch for her daughter.
Step by step instructions
Here’s an easy-make wabbit with lots of character. Stitch with some leftover fabric or maybe that special piece you’ve been dying to use for a while. Change his expression by tweaking his mouth, whiskers, or the angle of his ears.
1. Use one fabric for the body and a coordinating fabric for the arms, legs and ears. Fold the fabrics right sides (RS) together and then cut out your pieces using these templates. Do the same for your felt pieces.
2. Make a small pom-pom for the rabbit’s tail. A pom-pom maker is really handy but you could also use two ring-shaped pieces of cardboard. Leave the ends of the securing piece of cotton long as they’re used to attach the tail to the fabric. For a denser pom-pom, make a slightly larger one than is needed, then trim it to size.
3. Attach the pom-pom to one of the body pieces by using a needle to pull through each end of thread and secure tightly with a knot.
4. Sew the eyes and nose onto the other body piece using two strands of black embroidery thread. Use back stitch and the same embroidery thread to create the mouth and whiskers. This could be done freehand, or use a soluble embroidery pen to trace the design, and then embroider over the lines. A spray of water will eradicate any traces of the line.
5. Use two strands of white embroidery thread to sew a cross in the centre of each eye. This brings the face to life and gives your rabbit character. Machine sew or back stitch the felt pieces to the front body and ear pieces.
6. Place each set of ear, arm and leg pieces RS together. Pin or tack, then machine sew, leaving roughly 0.5cm seam allowance. Zig-zag stitch around each leg and arm to prevent fraying – remember to leave a gap for stuffing later on.
7. Turn each ear, arm and leg RS out (a chopstick, knitting needle or similar pointy tool is really helpful here) then press, turning the raw edges of the holes in neatly. Pressing makes it much easier to sew up the holes later on.
8. At the base of each ear, fold the outside edges into the centre and secure both sides together with a stitch (don’t worry, this will be removed later).
9. Arrange and pin the ears, arms and legs onto the front body piece, and tack into place. This stops the pieces from having a will of their own and moving when you sew the body pieces together.
10. Pin the body pieces, RS together, and machine sew leaving a 0.5cm seam allowance. Just like before when you were sewing the limbs together, make sure you leave a gap for both turning and stuffing. Then zig-zag stitch around the edge to prevent fraying, and trim any excess.
11. Turn RS out and cut away the tacking stitch on the ears.
12. Fill the arms, legs and body tightly with stuffing (your chopstick or knitting needle will come in handy again). Then fold the raw edges in and sew the holes up using blind stitch. Say hello to your finished rabbit!