Gucci autumn/winter 2020
Gucci autumn/winter 2020

Liberty started out as an outfitter for the avant-garde – “the chosen resort of the artistic shopper”, as Oscar Wilde once described it. Nearly 150 years later, the department store is a London landmark, and its famed prints – of which there are some 45,000 – represent Britishness the world over.

Gucci Liberty autumn/winter 2020
Gucci Liberty autumn/winter 2020

These vast fabric archives were an inspiration for Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, who collaborated with Liberty this season on a capsule collection that debuted with the house’s menswear show in January. Michele selected little-used prints and transformed them into pieces that melded grunge, whimsy and kink: smocked mini dresses with contrast collars; patchwork shirts with self-fabric bows; an oversized, sporty puffer jacket; and an ensemble suit with matching tie. Naturally the collaboration isn’t short of hit accessories, including caps and bucket hats printed with an art nouveau-style Gucci Liberty logo, as well as sneakers and Gucci’s 1955 Horsebit bags. Had Arthur Lasenby Liberty and Michele met in 1875, this would surely have been the resulting collaboration. 

The art-nouveau Gucci Liberty logo on a wallet, £575
The art-nouveau Gucci Liberty logo on a wallet, £575

What is it that makes Liberty, particularly its floral designs, so perennially popular? Sonnet Stanfill, senior curator at the V&A, puts it down to its “association with romanticised notions of Englishness”. Indeed, Michele’s selection – “designed by artists between the 1910s and the 1930s”, according to Liberty archivist Anna Buruma – epitomises British eccentricity, melded with his own brand of Italian maximalism. His intention was to convey the sense of recalling a memory from the past – as with much of his work, Michele looks forward by looking back. 

Gucci Liberty cap, £260
Gucci Liberty cap, £260
Gucci Liberty shirt, £800
Gucci Liberty shirt, £800
Gucci Liberty trainers, £500
Gucci Liberty trainers, £500
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