Most Sportscraft customers would be aware of the company’s long standing and exclusive relationship with Liberty of London, and Liberty Art Fabrics, which are translated into a number of collectable shirts, dresses and accessories every season.
The history of Liberty is, of course, famous – Arthur Liberty opened the eponymous Liberty Emporium on Regent Street in 1875, trading textiles and goods from the Far East. He then began working with local artisans to produce Liberty’s own fabrics, which soon became widely renowned, linked as they were to the key art movements of the 19th and 20th Century.
The Liberty Design studio is still based in Soho, and creates 120 new prints per year; with the archive itself holding a mind boggling 43,000 original prints and designs. The label has seen unique collaborations with artists and designers including William Morris, Yves Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood, Nike and of course, Sportscraft.
Liberty produces the highest quality of fabrics, such as silk, cotton, wools and denim, using traditional, hand painted techniques as well as modern computer graphics. It is important to see each Liberty release as not just another seasonal print, but as an addition to a rich history of art and fashion.
I personally love the florals, especially the versions on silk that have a thirties, chinoiserie feel about them (yes, I’ve been lucky enough to delve into the Liberty fabric files!). This season, I love the Juno shirt as seen on Naomi Watts – it’s made from silk and has a lovely, soft and retro feel to it.
I’m going to be honest and mention that floral prints, for those over forty can be ageing, but there are definitely ways to style Liberty prints in a more youthful way. For example, the Liberty print shirt with a classic pair of pants needs fun details – a belt, or a brightly coloured sandal perhaps in a clashing colour. Jeans or a jeweled necklace. Perhaps even something striped underneath it.
Stripes and prints were made to go together- it’s very French to wear a striped t-shirt with a floral skirt or visa versa. Don’t get too matchy-matchy with florals, break them up with casual elements like a denim or chambray shirt or jacket.
My friend Kristy Hinze, the Aussie supermodel, loves a Liberty shirt put back with white jeans or shorts, with the sleeves rolled up. And diamonds!
I would recommend wearing the Juno shirt with black pants and heels in the evening, and with jeans, a leather jacket and sneakers during the day. You have to throw in a bit of a devil-may-care attitude to get the most from a floral piece.
My dream Liberty piece however, (which I would treasure) would be a flower sprigged trench coat – maybe in that blue Tori print? Hint, hint Sportscraft!