“La Rentree” captures a sense of autumn renewal and re-start. “Fall” is more redolent of a slanting golden light, scent of leather, late roses and dahlias nodding heavy heads, morning mist rising as the sun burns off the growing night chill. Both are equally applicable. Even as an adult, I still can’t shake off the echoes of autumn: a new pair of shoes for school; pulling out my huge tweed scarf in the first stage of layering up; appreciating richer, deeper tones and combinations of tweeds and prints, colours and textures. I’m hopelessly romantic when it comes to autumn and this year in London, I’m looking forward to some inspirational exhibitions that will fire up my imagination even more.
Fabric of India at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 3 October until 10 January, looks set to be a masterclass in appreciating the prints and motifs that appeared in many of the AW 15-16 collections such as Valentino, Burberry, Givenchy, Dries van Noten or Joie. India’s influence on the development of textiles and print patterns has been profound. First brought to Europe in the 17th century as a luxury product, they were assimilated into local design and artisanal techniques and, with the industrial revolution, eventually into the mass manufacture of household goods.
This brings us to Liberty: a shop that has done more than perhaps any other to popularise exotic and oriental design and the artisanal skills that go with it: the archive, in London’s Bermondsey, is a unique treasure trove, holding over 40,000 prints. Liberty in Fashion at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum (9 October to 28 February 2016) celebrates the eccentric and exotic world of Liberty.
From a small beginning in 1875 with half a shop at 218a Regent Street selling oriental fabric and objects, by 1885 the store had added fashion, home furnishing and an “Eastern Bazaar”. The shop tapped into the zeitgeist so successfully that customers included some of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and there were design collaborations with Ruskin and Morris’s Arts & Crafts Movement.
That commitment to artisanship continues today with Liberty’s Best of British Open Call, giving small designers and craftworkers the opportunity to pitch their products to store buyers and ultimately have their products showcased on Liberty’s shelves. The latest instalment in the Liberty story comes with the publication of At Liberty: from rehab to the front row by Liberty Managing Director, Ed Burstell. Already known in the UK thanks to his charismatic appearance in the Channel Four documentaries about the store, his autobiography and his experiences working in the fashion industry, including at Bergdorf Goodman, promise to be fascinating.
So, with fashion taking us back down a more romantic and individualistic route after seasons of minimalism and dressing down, I’m more than ready to be inspired by these shows.