Thursday, November 02, 2006

LIBERTY IS FOREVER MY TIFFANY...


The other day at the end of a styling job I took myself to Liberty to decompress. Trundling up to the top floor in the wood panelled lift and working my way slowly round and round, back down to the ground floor. I never really buy anything major there, I just trail around admiring the whimsical displays - they must have so much fun thinking them up. I'm sure I saw a dressmaker's dummy covered in china teacups. I waft through the furniture department, marvel at glassware and stop before one of those bunch of grape blown glass chandeliers I've always hankered after. It's quiet, the music there is never too loud.

I scan all the bolts of fabric, touching all of them. Liberty print fabric reminds me of my lovely granny. When I was little she used to make me cotton dresses, and knit cardigans. Oh to have those now, or anything made for you by hand with love for that matter. The dresses were liberty print and I get a strong sense memory from some of the fabrics.

In the haberdashery department I buy a few bits and bobs, a round Liberty print sewing box is tempting but I pass, then take ten minutes to choose the colour yarn I'm drawn to most. The lady at the counter is a sweetheart, calling me pet and darlin' in her Geordie accent, fussing round me good naturedly making sure I've got everything I need. I feel the tense foot tapping "fucking hurry up" stance from doing bulk returns in Topshop and Selfridges drain away.

As it's winter I'm nesting so I spend ages in the bed linen department trying to justify the price of a Descamps pillowcase. I can't stop thinking about a bolt of petrol blue mohair and wonder if I should buy a metre to put on the end of my bed. I overhear a member of staff talking the ear off an American tourist, telling her all about the origins of Liberty, how the company made its name importing artisanal goods from Asia; she relayed the story as if it were her own family history.

By the time I make my way down the wooden stairs (does anyone else ever stop and think how amazing those wooden stairs are?) after skidding quickly through contemporary collections and shoes, I am fully relaxed. In the vintage bit they have a Kelly bag on sale for £2,500. I kick myself again for not bidding on the one I saw at Christie's.

A quick squirt of Creed in the perfume room and a drool over Jean Rouget stationery but I can't decide on a colour so I buy a sheet of wrapping paper. Along with my yarn and an embroidery hoop that's all I need. Maybe some flowers but the flower seller in the entrance vetoes anything I pick out as "not very lovely at the moment" picking at them sadly as if he couldn't possibly sell them in that state. They look absolutely fine to me but I'm grateful for his honesty.

Back outside in the twilight I try to keep the Mary Poppins vibe alive by avoiding Oxford Street and instead wend my way through the back streets of Mayfair.

6 comments:

Hester said...

I am completely in love with Liberty too - my favourite department store in London... I can spend hours in haberdashery (sp?). It is like a dream store, and the best for Christmas shopping!

Lilac Stripe said...

Thanks for that description, it makes me want to wend my way into central London and make some homely purchases...

Bombay Beauty said...

Very evocative, Lola, of two things, at least for me. First, London. There are still wonderful places like Liberty, where people take pride in their individuality (both the shop and those who work there), where circulating the maximum number of tourists through the spot isn't the objective. I suppose our continental friends do have many places like this (they don't need your business, they're clear on that), but to do it with grace rather than surliness is wonderful. Second, London. Where you can find old wooden staircases and lovely walks home through Mayfair rather than down bustling streets. We don't have the spirit of either here in NY.

While I'm at it, a quick third one. These days everything around us is machine made, from the floors, to the walls, to the furniture, to our clothes. That is what is so precious about something artisanal. I was noting this to myself last week while walking through some galleries in (the NY) Chelsea. Not all of it is great art (most is surely not), but there is something so precious about having something on your wall that is a conversation with another person rather than yourself.

Cheers,

BB

eurobrat said...

I love Liberty...

Anonymous said...

can I please please ride along on your shoulder? I promise to only drink champagne to keep things light--- god, I want to go eveyrwhere with you I lvoe your aesthetic and where your attention goes and oh, worse than a stalker, I want to be a bird on your shoulder . . .

~bluepoppy

cosmicopia said...

ditto Liberty - perfect for post shoot escapism. May have to go there now and get some essential Falke tights in 'felt'. Definitely a Liberty item.
Was a bit unsure of the Fred Seagullesque railings in the casual/jeans bit...seemed a bit neurotic!