As a part of my research, I got into contact with the Tourist Guide of Liberty, Anthony Robbins.
Liberty’s London originally opened in 1975 by Arthur, selling oriental goods as japonaiserie took over Vogue through the import of goods from Asia. The contents of the store are reflective of the oriental imported from the continents.
The first store fronted Regent Street, with the request of the store being built by the oak timber of two ships (Hindustan and Impregnable).
Liberty is between Soho and Regent Street, two completely different areas and contrasts of people, soon this began the trend of women shopping with their friends (and other women) unchaperoned.
As Selfridges came about, Mr Selfridge redefined the shopping experience with his slogan of ‘the customer is always right’, as well as welcoming anyone into his store for the experience, as well as to shop. As Anthony said; ‘it was radical because it broke down the divisions of the classes and the sexes’
This was the first introduction to the acceptance of sexuality for men and women; with murals and paintings of naked women and men within these department stores, more particularly Selfridges, known for their ambiguous and erotic style.
Originally, Pietro Fenoglio was one of the early architectures for Liberty, accompanied with the Casa Fenoglio-Lafleur, adding Art Nouveau elements onto a more traditional facade, drawing inspiration from Hampton Court Palace.
Unbeknownst to most, there are little rooms within the store, from bedrooms to small fireplace rooms.
Liberty is between Soho and Regent Street, two completely different areas and contrasts of people.
Soho around that time was famous for their Tapestries, Tailoring and Gunpowder! But the question is why did Liberty choose such a controversial area?
Liberty was able to buy the land that was previously Captain Foubert’s Riding School.
Foubert’s Place runs near Carnaby Street, who was a Hugano French Protestant who was expelled from France Louis XV, and settled in Canterbury, Spitalfields and Soho. They introduced the first Tapestry Trade and Silk Weaving. ‘That is why ’til this day, Spitalfields and Soho have many Jewish influences, with tailors and marketplaces’.
The draw to these department stores until this day is the experience, the feeling of presence and browsing products that we may or may not be able to purchase.
If you are considering visiting Liberty London youself, the closest station is Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus.
(Escobar T A, 2018, unsplash.com)
I hope this gives inspiration to those who are planning on visiting London’s Shopping hot-spots, and gives insight into the history of the Liberty Store.
I would like to thank Anthony Robbins for this interview; you can find him on Instagram @meetmrlondoner, and his website www.mrlondoner.co.uk/
Written by Rachael Taylor