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Apr 24, 2023
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Liberty links with Federico Forquet for modern fabric collection

Apr 24, 2023

Department store and fabric specialist Liberty of London may be known for its traditional floral prints but its latest collection has a more modern twist as it links up with couturier-turned-print-designer Federico Forquet for its 150th anniversary.

Federico Forquet - Liberty

In fact, the company has been known for embracing modernism in print since its early days and this new offer continues that tradition.

Its new FuturLiberty offer in collaboration with the nonagenarian Italian designer blends both the past and future, being inspired by the Italian futurist and British vorticist movements of a century ago while reviving the future-focused prints created by the late designer Bernard Nevill. 

The designs feel ultra-modern and the collaboration has led to as many as 100+ textile designs, a coffee table book and two exhibitions in Milan.

Forquet, who worked with Cristóbal Balenciaga in Paris in the 1950s, also had his own celebrity-favourite couture label a decade later but then moved into his preferred areas — interiors and gardens.

He met Liberty MD Andrea Petochi in 2021 and the idea of a collab was born back then with Petrochi telling the FT that “I suddenly realised that this was the master that Liberty needed”.

Meanwhile, Liberty Design Director Mary-Ann Dunkley told The Guardian that Forquet wanted to challenge the retailer yet she was uncertain at first how his futurist designs would connect to Liberty. 

But trawling though its massive (50,000+ pieces) archive, the work of former Liberty design director Bernard Nevill (who once taught Ossie Clark and Zandra Rhodes) came to light via two 1960s vorticist-inspired fabrics.

Dunkley added that “once we found that link, we were so excited. These types of prints aren’t what we are commercially known for, so it was scary.”

The prints for the new collection were all hand-drawn and also include a reimagined Nevill print — now dubbed Future Federico — from David Bowie’s 1972 Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit.  

Forquet also said they were “inspired by the atmosphere and the feelings of serenity and harmony which I experience within my home and garden. When working with the Liberty designers, we worked in the garden, ‘sitting on the grass’. The fabric prints and colours are influenced by the beautiful, fragrant plants growing within my garden”.

And he added: “I first visited Liberty soon after World War II. Liberty is more than a store — it’s different to any other. The founder Arthur Lasenby Liberty was very passionate about Arts and Crafts, however there is a beautiful balance between the British tradition and new creative discoveries found within the store. All other stores were trying to be very ‘new world department style’ — instead, thanks to the help of artists and craftsmen, Arthur Liberty turned an old Tudor store into a place of whole new possibilities for upcoming artists and fresh talent.”

The collection is on sale now and includes both clothing and interiors fabrics.

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