25 February 2009

Liberty Renaissance

"Renaissance" is the branding given to the remodelling of Liberty of London and, as this is my favourite shop, I was a little worried about the prospect of any changes.

A work meeting in London gave me an early opportunity to see these changes for myself and I am delighted. Liberty is as it was but only more so!

The main structure of the store is unchanged and it still carries the same familiar sense of history, grandeur and mystery.

It has a more open feel but this has been achieved simply by putting less stuff on the floors. No walls have been removed and so the curious mix of rooms and atria remain.

This is important for me as it means that there is always a (pleasant) surprise when walking through the store randomly.

The best thing about the change is the amount of Liberty fabric on display.

Women's clothing is now on two floors (rather than just one) and this has a lot of Liberty print blouses and a also few dresses. Hopefully this mix will change through the seasons but blouses are always good.

There is still a fabrics room on another floor where you can buy a wide range of Liberty fabrics, Liberty print dressmakers' dummies and more ready made blouses if needlework does not entice you.

The only disappointment, and it is quite a big one, is that the menswear department is almost devoid of Liberty print shirts. It is just as well that I bought three in the last sale!

One of my favourite parts of the building always was, and still is, the staircases.

Sadly my favourite one was in the Regent Street section of the building which is no longer part of Liberty. That staircase was virtually hidden at the North end of the shop and using it felt like living out a Famous Five adventure.

The staircase at the West end of the shop is charming in the way that it changes between each floor and gets narrower the further up you go. It looks and feels like an afterthought.

The main staircase is toward the South-East corner of the building and gives easy access to all floors. It creaks like it looks like it should creak in a wonderful stately home sort of way.

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