What’s new in store at Liberty?

From blue tits to badgers, Liberty’s autumn gifts are wild at heart, says Stephanie Hirschmiller

It’s not just fashion labels that offer new-season collections. London’s Liberty department store has just given its third-floor gift room an autumn overhaul and the buying team has hand-picked a new roster of eclectic designers.

Fans of ornithology will love the handmade birds created by textile designer Abigail Brown and fashioned painstakingly from scraps of new and reused fabric. From robins and blue tits to owls and flamingos, each is completely unique and so lifelike from afar that they might be mistaken for the real thing, though happily no birds were harmed in the process.

Brown learned her craft growing up with her grandmother, a seamstress, in a house strewn with thread and remnants of multicoloured fabric. Emma Cocker’s trophy heads, on the other hand, are unlikely to be mistaken for the real thing: a purveyor of “ethical taxidermy,” she knits and stitches animal heads, creating British countryside “characters” – not least a  badger in a flat cap.

Other newcomers include US artist Chad Wys, who revisits classic English paintings such as Gainsborough’s Portrait of a Lady with graffiti-type daubs and Danish ceramics label Finnsdottir with its quirky hand-painted Babushka vases.

“We look far and wide and everywhere in between for new talent, relishing the  opportunity to discover and introduce new and aspiring designers,” said buying manager Julie Hassan, citing Brown, Cocker and co.

Illustrator and ceramicist Rory Dobner, who now boasts his own area on the floor, was discovered by the team by happy accident: they saw his drawings in the background of a photo of his wife that appeared in a news article. At the time, he was a stay-at-home dad who only designed as a hobby but now his anthropomorphic animals are favoured by the likes of Kate Moss. Wild!

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