For 132 years, a stretch of London's Regent Street has been home to the world's most beloved and sought-after prints. Through endless renovations, revolutions in style, and financial ups-and-downs, Liberty, perhaps the first true department store, still stands. The charmingly garish mock-Tudor faÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â§ade is still marvelous. Its print-lined, leather-bound notebook selection is still hearthside. And you can still browse the bewitching collection of textiles, or rifle their bazaar of upper-crust bric-a-brac, as shoppers did a century ago.
These days, the flag is flying high. After decades in debt and confusion, Liberty is once again on the rise. Recent buyouts, new retail strategies, a revamp of their old HQ, and partnerships with labels such as Cacharel, Miu Miu, Balenciaga, and Paul Smith have brought the white elephant of Regent Street back into the "must-shop" club. Considering their importance to modern fashion, the prints should continue to age like fine wine. As Simon Doonan, Barneys New York buyer and Liberty enthusiast says, "Liberty prints are for the connoisseur. I don't know my Thunderbirds from my Rothschilds—but I know my prints."
Liberty print dresses by BAUMUNDPFERDGARTEN. Images courtesy of BAUMUNDPFERDGARTEN.
Marching proudly into its third century, London's Liberty department store remains a retail leader, but also a designer touchstone in cool textile prints. Just ask Simon Doonan.