Liberty Art Fabrics

A Short History

Shortly after the Liberty shop opened on Regent Street in 1875, Arthur Liberty printed the first of the soon to be famous Liberty Silks. Imported from India, the Mysore silk was dyed in England and then hand-printed with wooden blocks.

Liberty’s imported oriental silks were dyed, printed or woven in Britain and France. The cottons were printed in Scotland, Cumbria and Lancashire. In 1904 Liberty took over a print works that specialised in block-printed silks just up-river from William Morris’ works in Merton. It is because of this print works that the company still has such a large textile archive.

"Liberty’s greatest triumph in those early days came from a co-operation with Thomas Wardle, the dyers and printers of Leek in Staffordshire, who also worked for William Morris. Between them, Liberty and Wardle introduced dyes which had until then been supposed to be a closely guarded secret of the East…delicate pastel tints which they called ‘Art Colours’, and that became described all over the world as ‘Liberty colours’. Silk in Liberty colours were an influential element in the Aesthetic Movement. Liberty’s windows had white painted fretwork screens, and the silks were draped in front of these in graduated tints. They became one of the sights of Regent Street." Liberty's: a biography of a shop, Alison Adburgham, 1975

Today designers for Liberty still come and visit the archive for inspiration. New patterns are either designed by the in-house Studio or are commissioned from freelance designers. Each spring and autumn season new textile collections are produced to complement the range of classic designs that are not so bound to the seasons. Some of these latter designs, such as Peacock Feather, date back to the 1880s.

The Autumn Winter 2011 Fabrics Collection: Liberty Rocks

Liberty Rocks is a visionary collection which takes inspiration from art and music, combining the creative talents of our design team with those of renowned musicians and artists who are passionate about our print collection. The result is a truly original compilation of vibrant prints, comprised of seven distinct groups.

From fabrics inspired by early rock’n’roll, to a selection of archive prints specially chosen by singer Florence Welch, Liberty Rocks encapsulates the creativity and energy that has defined pop and rock over the last 50 years.

The collection is available in Tana Lawn, Lantana Wool, Lilestone Wool, Crepe de Chine, Georgette, Poplin, Silk Satin and Jersey. Prices from £19.95 per metre. The full selection is available in store with Tana Lawn available online.

Liberty Art Fabrics Designed by Musicians

Liberty Art Fabrics Designed by Musicians Dancing Ladies by Florence Welch A Boy Dreams by Graham Coxon Ornithology by Edwyn Collins Emilia de Poret

For this exciting design group we were delighted to work with critically acclaimed musical creators who have links to the art world.

We were thrilled to invite critically acclaimed singer Florence Welch of ‘Florence and the Machine’ to visit the Liberty archives. Florence selected two of her favourite designs for this season’s collection: Grace, a vintage, hand drawn lace print from the 19th Century; and Dancing Ladies, a traditional Liberty Floral popular in the 1920s and 30s.

A Boy Dreams Liberty Print was created from original drawings by Blur guitarist and solo musician Graham Coxon. The final design is reminiscent of rock poster artwork of the 1960s, with wood cut line work and the vibe of Esher and Mucha. Coxon is a multi instrumentalist credited with being one of the most gifted guitarists of his generation. He has also created artwork for Blur’s album covers as well as his own.

Ornithology Liberty Print was designed from sketches by Edwyn Collins, who is best known for fronting Scottish rock revivalists Orange Juice and for his international solo hit – ‘A Girl Like You.’ In 2005 Edwyn suffered a severe cerebral haemorrhage that he took six months to recover from. As part of his rehabilitation he drew a bird a day, each of which has been used in this remarkable print.

For this eye-catching design, Swedish singer Emilia de Poret was inspired by microphone heads. The Liberty Team transformed her ideas into this stunning geometric glitter ball repeat. Hailed as the Countess of Swedish pop, Emilia studied at Sweden’s leading music school before producing three highly successful albums. She has also received an award from Elle Magazine for best-dressed fashion icon.

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Liberty Art Fabrics Designed by Artists
Liberty Art Fabrics Designed by Artists Vonetta by John Squire Tomary by Mark Mawston Thorgerson by Storm Thorgerson Storm by Storm Thorgerson

For this diverse group the design team worked closely with artists John Squire, Mark Mawston and Storm Thorgerson; resulting in a selection of iconic prints in vibrant colour ways.

Thorgerson has designed some of the most famous album covers in history for bands including Pink Floyd, Genesis and Led Zeppelin and is known for his surrealist approach. Thorgerson has created two designs for Liberty – an iconic prism graphic recalling one of the most famous album covers of all time, Pink Floyd’s 'Dark Side of the Moon', and a stunning graphic of birds, based on his design for Australian band Powderfinger’s album 'Golden Rule'.

Now a successful full-time artist, Squire was formerly a guitarist in the Manchester band The Stone Roses. The Liberty Design Team commissioned him to produce a print for Liberty Rocks. The resulting graphic – a lino cut geometric entitled Vonetta – has a strong 50s style feel.

This celebrated photographer is a legend in the world of rock and roll photography. From Madonna to Morrissey, few rock icons have escaped his lens. A lover of Liberty print himself, Mark was delighted to work with the design team. Photographing a stone rose on a London pavement inspired the design Tomary, a stylised medieval rose print.

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Liberty Art Fabrics Design Inspiration Mark Lizzie's New Year Paisley Paper Roses Busy Issie

Influences vary from 1940s jazz to 50s rock’n’roll jukeboxes and 1970s folk music. Discover a mixture of stylised and regimented geometrics, swirling and hatched florals, water colour abstracts and miniature stars.

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Paisley achieved huge popularity during the 60s and 70s, when it was heavily identified with psychedelic style. With Liberty’s historic connection to Kashmir, from where paisley shawls originated, it seemed a natural subject for the annual Central Saint Martin’s and Liberty Art Fabrics design collaboration.

Within this collection there are three archival paisleys that have been designed using existing mid-19th century shawls, and then coloured in a mixture of traditional, unusual and tonal shades, plus four completely new designs.

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Prints range from ornate paisleys inspired by Scott McKenzie’s ‘San Fransico’ to a more subtle floral inspired by the Rolling Stones’ ‘Dandelion’.

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Liberty Art Fabrics in the Classic Style
Liberty Art Fabrics in the Traditional Style Dora Pablo Pepper Stefan Penny

This charming compilation of prints celebrates some of our best loved floral designs, where classic archive prints are reworked, revised and updated.

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Digital Liberty Art Fabrics
Liberty Art Fabrics Digital Capsule Collection Dominika Symposium Bailando en mis Suenos Explosions in the Sky

In this exciting new venture the design team explores the possibility of digital print by entering the mind of a rockstar to create their own fantasy album cover. The group includes one design inspired by award winning photographer Jill Furmanovsky, who has worked with many famous bands including The Clash, The Jam and Oasis.

Other prints were designed by the Liberty Fabrics Team, a mixture of highly detailed coloured florals created with graphite, ink, paint and pastels.

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Liberty Art Fabrics AW11 Colour Palette
Colours for AW11 have been inspired by the colours used on vintage album covers, sourced by the Liberty Design Team on trips to second hand record shops:

These colours are taken from a palette of intense icy blues using the hues of the cover of the 1975 best-selling album 'Siren'. Liberty Art Fabrics Autumn Winter 2011 Colour Palette

On the cover of 'Feels Like the First Time' the band members posed in a collection of differently coloured macintosh coats, stimulating the Design Team to create a palette of these colours, with shades of dusty pink, velvet green suede brown and beige. Liberty Art Fabrics Autumn Winter 2011 Colour Palette

80s band Colourbox produced 'Baby I Love You So' with a record sleeve cover that featured rich reds, lustrous scarlets and dark magentas. Liberty Art Fabrics Autumn Winter 2011 Colour Palette

BB King brought a vibrancy and boldness to the rock and roll scene reflected in this collection by rich opulent shades. Liberty Art Fabrics Autumn Winter 2011 Colour Palette

Warm and wintry with colour tones in luxuriant shades from rich ochre to conker. Liberty Art Fabrics Autumn Winter 2011 Colour Palette

East Coast Indie band Absolute Grey made a name for themselves in the 1980s. Their album 'Greenhouse' inspired the Liberty Team to produce a palette of differing shades of grey ranging from deep charcoal to pale flint. Liberty Art Fabrics Autumn Winter 2011 Colour Palette

Liberty Art Fabrics
The Liberty Rocks Collection is available in the following different fabrics:

Jersey, £29.95 per metre, 135cm width

Crepe de Chine, £45 per metre, 134cm width

Georgette, £45 per metre, 134cm width

Lantana Wool, £34.95 per metre, 150cm width

Lilestone Wool, £49.95 per metre, 142cm width

Poplin, £19.95 per metre, 138cm width

Silk Satin, £45 per metre, 134cm width

Tana Lawn, £21 per metre, 136cm width

The full selection is available in store with Tana Lawn available online.