A Makeover for a London Shopping Icon Liberty


Liberty on Regent Street

Prior to the makeover,  Liberty’s layout felt cluttered and slightly claustrophobic. Without losing retail space the shop has been transformed by installing big mirrors,  uncovering windows,  and opening up doors.  The space is dotted with comfy sofas,  creating calm zones for shoppers and their companions to take a breather and relax.  Original design features of the six-floor store,  like the wood paneling taken from two former Royal Navy ships and a central atrium,  remain.

Liberty,  located in Central London’s Regent Street,  was founded by Arthur Lazenby in 1875 as an oriental-import emporium. Over the years,  fabrics, f urnishings and decoration departments were introduced as well as jewelry,  arts and crafts,  and cosmetics,  with a particular emphasis on eccentricity.  Trendsetter Oscar Wilde once described it as  “the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.”

Liberty has a history of collaborating with influential artists.  Soon after it opened artists and designers like Aubrey Beardsley,  Paul Poiret,  and Dante Gabriel Rossetti helped produce its first range of floral prints. That relationship between store and artist has continued:  The Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry — whose public alter ego,  Claire,  is a proud devotee of the store  —  is one of six contemporary artists working on the current range of fabrics.  One of his designs is made up of a tangle of bicycles,  another is inspired by the recent BBC costume drama  “Cranford.”

For anyone who wants to create their own designs there is a fabric,  knitting wool,  and haberdashery section. Knitting,  crochet,  patchwork,  sewing,  and ragdoll-making lessons are bookable.

A respite  can be taken in any of the 3 eateries within the store:  a champagne and oyster bar;  a tea room;  and Café Liberty.

More Shopping in London

Need more Retail Therapy?   Read on  …

East London


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There are still some corners of London where quirky fashion,  contemporary art,  &  cultural food thrives.

Go East to find areas that thrive with items crafted by young British designers. Brick Lane is one of those areas.

An old building that used to be the Truman Brewery stands out from the rest of the street and is packed with independent shops. The Truman Brewery has been an important creative and cultural hub.

One shop at the old brewery sells clothing made out recycled material. You can make a one-of-a-kind item from one of your old garments; j ust bring it to the shop and the designer will make it into a new item for you. Other shops sell vintage clothing. You can get an East London Quirky Shopping guide from visitlondon.com

Many shops in the area encourage young designers to display their collections by offering affordable rental rates,  allowing talent scouts from major chains to find budding designers.

Besides Brick Lane and the Truman Brewery,  East London has several neighborhoods boasting dozens of independent shops. Socially aware shoppers can buy a wedge card from www.wedgecard.co.uk for 10 pounds,  of which 5 goes to a local charity. The card allows you to support local shops while obtaining special offers and discounts from over 150 businesses in the East End.

Apart from shopping,  East London is also increasingly known for contemporary art,  with many galleries,  museums and  shops. With more than 80 art galleries, there’s something for everyone’s taste in the East End. Don’t miss the famous WhiteCube and Whitechapel Art Gallery,  but also look out for hidden gems scattered all around this area waiting to be discovered.  Dozens of the area’s galleries host cultural events and contemporary art exhibitions.

And talk about food! If you’re after comfort food,  Brick Lane is THE place for bagels and baltis. If you are craving a curry or just need a quick bite,  head for the famous Brick Lane Beigel Bake,  which is ALWAYS open — 24 hours a day,  365 days a year. (You are sure to see one or two London Black Taxi drivers in there at any time of the day or night!)

At visitlondon.com,  you can download a guide called DIY East that will show you where to find East London’s quirky fashion, comtemporary art, and posh (and not so posh) nosh.