Liberty has successfully blended traditional styling with a contemporary edge in its new own-label store.
How do you roll out or replicate a store as iconic as Liberty on London’s Great Marlborough Street? Its Tudor building, ornate carvings, crooked stairwells and wooden panelling are as intrinsic to the Liberty brand as its heritage prints, which made the company’s plan to open a dedicated store for its own label even more ambitious.
Yet the new 1,800sq ft Liberty of London store on Sloane Street in west London manages to evoke just enough of the brand’s history but with a contemporary edge, which is entirely fitting for the label’s overhaul that has been carried out by the company’s creative director, Tamara Salman.
The store front features a cut-out monogram of the Liberty crest, inviting shoppers inside. Inside, the walls are adorned with glossy black panelling inspired by the wooden panels in the Great Marlborough Street store, while the grey stone floor is decorated with a brass inlay of Liberty’s iconic “Ianthe” print. A white stucco ceiling is carved from moulds of prints from the Liberty archive, including the floral “Chrystelle” design.
The ground floor, which showcases women’s ready-to-wear and accessories including bags and swimwear, also features a gallery wall of vivid Liberty silk scarves which are back-lit and framed with oak and glass. Below the hung scarves there is a three-metre-long scarf bar in black gloss, petrified oak and glass.
Luxurious changing rooms inspired by luxury train the Orient Express are located at the back of the store, and feature exaggerated train seats and a dark purple velvet decor. The Orient Express theme is carried through to the womenswear floor, where luggage racks act as shelving units for bags and cases.
A curved staircase snakes up to the men’s floor in front of a dramatic floor-to-ceiling curtain of acrylic balls, which are strung individually to mimic the iconic Ianthe print. The men’s floor echoes the women’s floor with display units inspired by antique furniture but replicated in black gloss and matt black oak with miniature brass feet, which give a nod to Liberty’s traditional styling while introducing a contemporary feel.
Liberty has big plans for its Liberty of London own label and is building much of its future strategy around its development and the roll-out of the label to international markets. It also has a dedicated website, www.libertyoflondon.com.
Earlier this year the company said Liberty of London had gained momentum through increased investment – £3.5 million in 2007 against £2m in 2006 – and reported an 8% rise in sales of the brand to £3.2m over the year.
The Sloane Street store, designed by Salman and Paris architects Pierre Buecler and Jean-Christophe Poggioli, strikes a balance between Liberty of old and nouveau Liberty and provides a blueprint for Liberty when it decides to push the button on an international roll-out of the concept.
Liberty of London 197 Sloane Street,
2005 Year the Liberty of London brand launched under creative director Tamara Salman
100 Number of stockists the Liberty of London brand has around the world
£3.2m Sales generated by the Liberty of London brand in 2007