The brief: convert one of the world’s most iconic department stores into a luxury fashion and lifestyle brand.
The brains: Tamara Salman, Creative Director at Liberty of London and the visionary behind this alchemical transformation.
What does luxury mean to you, Tamara?
Individuality. In a world where everything is accessible and available to all, finding objects and places that are unique is so exciting and rewarding.
You’ve turned a Victorian department store into a 21st-century brand, selling at more than 100 top boutiques globally. How did you do it?
My remit was to create a new brand – Liberty of London – that embodied the rich heritage of the Liberty archives. “West meets east” was a key element in the brand DNA. The Liberty store is a mix of Mock Tudor, Moroccan and Chinese design, stemming from founder Arthur Liberty’s passion for travel and collecting, and the Liberty of London brand reflects this.
What kind of heritage items did you draw upon?
We worked closely with archives dating back to 1895. The iconic Art Nouveau Ianthe print is our signature pattern, and appears across a number of formats. It is the Liberty emblem, if you like, a way of identifying us and our heritage.
What are your bestselling pieces?
Our classic Ianthe embossed soft leather nappa bags are consistent bestsellers. Scarves – from classic silk twills to contemporary, featherlight printed cashmere – are a staple of the Liberty heritage and feature strongly in our collections today.
Did you echo this synergy in the interiors of your new flagship boutique on Sloane Street?
Yes, we wanted to create a bijou and modern interpretation of the flagship store. A famous textile design called Christelle was carved and moulded for the ceilings, and the riad-style arches, stained black oak and ceiling mouldings all mirror the interiors at the main Liberty department store on Regent Street. And the luxurious deep-purple velvet that’s so synonymous with the brand can be seen throughout.
Which city do you think is setting the benchmark for design today?
It would have to be London. It’s years ahead of its counterparts Paris and Milan. Londoners have an inimitably unique sense of style and aren’t afraid to express their individuality. Designers from all over the world come here to take inspiration from it.
Beatriz Nicolás, fashion in Spain