Thursday, February 12, 2009

Give Me Liberty


If you've never been to Liberty and Co., the luxury department store in London tailormade for modern-day eccentrics like you and me, call British Airways now.  I just purchased a roundtrip ticket from LA to London in March for the crazy low fare of $499.  At a price like that, I bought one for The Little Prince, too.  Since the Divine Italian's going to be there on business, I figure Luca and I will crash his hotel room and live it up for a couple of days.

I have it all planned out: once onboard, Luca will be granted unlimited use of his Nintendo DS (my restrictions on it ease up during air travel, especially transatlantic legs), thus guaranteeing me near silence for the duration of the flight.  As for me, I'll load up on my favorite podcasts, "The Bowery Boys" and Arun Krishnan's "Learn Hindi from Bollywood Movies", wrap a cashmere travel blanket around my shoulders, pop a Skittle, close my eyes and dream of what awaits me.


Where to begin?  Founded in 1875, Liberty and Co. began by selling an eclectic mix of objets and fabrics from the Far East, but went on to develop its own distinct aesthetic style linked to Art Nouveau.  After they began to produce their own fabrics for clothing and furnishings, their store soon became the most elegant emporium in London, catering to a wealthy and exotic clientele.  It remains so today, and half the fun in going is rubbing shoulders with the outrageous assortment of chic London mummies, dandyish "heirs and spares", and newly-hatched Bright Young Things.

Being inside the Tudor Revival building is like being in a Grade I-listed museum; in fact, its very timbers were taken from two British naval ships, the HMS Impregnable and the HMS Hindustan.  The interior is arranged around a huge wooden 5-story atrium, with open balconies at each level, dripping with gorgeous antique rugs.

Feeling peckish?  There is a tea room...

a cafe...

and a Champagne and oyster bar.  (Ooh, yes please.)

Fingers crossed that The Little Prince allows me some shopping time.  The last time we were there, it was a late November afternoon and he was in a black mood.  He demonstrated this by lying prostrate on the ground directly in front of the massive revolving door and refusing to budge, despite my desperate pleas and a tsunami wave of approaching boots.  Ah, the unpredictability of children. Let's just say that although the English are by nature unfailingly polite, my son had them at breaking point.  

Anyway, Liberty is a marvel of a place.  If you've been, you know what I mean. And if you haven't, I promise if you ever have a chance to go, you won't be disappointed.  Usually, by the time I manage to drag myself out of there, night is falling and the store looks prettier than ever.
On the occasions I exit clutching one of their instantly recognizable purple shopping bags, I consider myself a very lucky girl indeed.

Here are a few of my favorite purchases over the last couple of years...

A leather-bound blank book imprinted in Liberty's iconic "Ianthe" pattern, which I haven't been brave enough to write in yet (what could merit such importance?)...


...a velvet peacock feather pillow...

...some assorted pocket handkerchiefs and scented sachets, all in various Liberty prints...

...and my favorite toiletry bag ever, which sadly has been discontinued.


I'm counting down the days.


14 comments:

Funnyrunner said...

lol. let me know how that works for ya - counting on the Nintendo DS to give you near silence for an 8-hour flight! We're taking our kids to London and Paris this spring for the first time. very excited. have a wonderful time!

Tricia said...

I splurged on a paisley fringed cashmere shawl from Liberty 25 years ago now -- deep purples and grays. So beautiful, in fact, that I've never worn it! I drape this treasure across the piano with family photos atop so that I can enjoy it (and the memory of that defining shopping moment) each and every day. I even remember the feeling of awe when I first opened the door - after great anticipation. Have you been to their new "concept store" on Sloane?

So Lovely said...

Oh I love Liberty about as much as I love Harvey Nics. My father would always buy me a Liberty print shirt (blouse) before I returned for another jaunt at boarding school.

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa...

I want to go just to breath in its beauty.

an european duty

C.T. said...

There can be beauty and meaning in everything (your post of yesterday)......Well dear, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!....Have Fun!!!!

two hippos said...

Your going to have a ball!

Julie K. said...

Do you have an extra ticket? I could distract your son in the needlepoint department.....

Katherine said...

I've kept those purple Liberty shopping bags from past trips Though I think I'm down to one now.

little augury said...

Lisa- give me liberty too- a favorite spot to stop into- and Shop?
I posted just a touch of Liberty-recently in a diptyque post- I cant wait to see their new store on Sloane st. Go and tell all. I have seen a few teasers online (added to my post) I really love reading your stories.

pacgal said...

One of my most prized and used possessions for years and years was a Liberty travel toilettries bag I called "the pouf." It was like a hobo sack with a ribbon at the top drawing it closed. Sadly - like your bag - they no longer make them. It has been a decade and I still miss it.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

To all: It's so nice to know I'm not the only one with a Liberty obsession!

pve design said...

I sewed an ensemble back in big school using liberty fabric in the feather print. I loved it then and still adore liberty.
You have inspired me to see with liberty prints.

Pigtown-Design said...

LOVE IT! I did a long post about Liberty in October or November. They were all decorated for the holidays. Be sure to look for the animal carvings.

Buy Viagra said...

My Nintendo DS is my favorite hobbie, so I think that the tittle "Give Me Liberty" is so special to many people!!! everyone need to have the liberty because it is so important to be happy!!!

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