I finally watched the TV programme about Liberty of London last night. It aired on Monday here in the UK but these days I hardly watch any TV in ‘real time’! I found it fascinating (and moving in parts, the scenes with the 70-year-old Shukla who has worked at Liberty for 40 years almost brought a tear to my eye) especially as I interviewed the MD, Ed Burstell, last year about his vision for Liberty and the need for retail theatre on the high street.
Liberty has always been one of my favourite London stores. Founded in 1875, the magnificent Tudor building itself is such a treat to wander around, even it there weren’t delectable products on every shelf and rail. Easier to navigate than the vast retail emporiums that are Selfridges and Harrods, it may lack the uber-cool of Harvey Nichols but the atmosphere seems somehow warmer and more inviting. Its carefully edited beauty, lingerie and footwear (the Manolo Blahnik collaboration was pure genius) departments are arguably the best you’ll find anywhere in London and I love that Liberty has held onto its history as a leading textile design house and has not been swayed to ditch the more traditional elements of the store, such as its haberdashery department.
The highlight of the first installment of the three-part series for me was without a doubt Grayson Perry proclaiming that Liberty is the store “for people who find John Lewis too beige”.