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Liberty of London Handbags & Purses

Founded in 1875, Liberty of London helped liberate Victorian England from restrictive fashion at a time when daily dressing required more than a few nips, tucks and layers. The label's designs eschewed tight-laced corsets and dreary colors in favor of free- flowing gowns in lively hues and nature-based prints.

Liberty's forward-looking sensibility extended into its bag creations. Early Liberty of London handbags and purses had Eastern-inspired designs born from the European fascination with Asia as well as the colorful performances of the Paris-based Ballet Russes.

Keeping step with the times, the 1910s saw Liberty bring practical pouches and glittery evening bags with frames and handles carved out of everything from wood and celluloid to bone and ivory. In the Roaring Twenties, the storied house got in on the popularity of ancient Egyptian motifs while also producing pearl- and rhinestone- embellished tapestry handbags.

Since then, Liberty has worked with a number of designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Mary Quant, Jean Muir, and Vivienne Westwood. More recently, Liberty has collaborated with retailer Target, producing, among other things, totes and duffle bags in its signature florals. Liberty's handbags and purses continue to attract those with an appreciation for its heritage of quintessential British design.

Quick Facts

  • Liberty of London once commissioned England's finest silversmiths to fashion bag buckles and clasps and hardware from fine silver
  • Liberty of London Ianthe-patterned handbags sell for as much as $1,100. They are based on prints originally created by well known French Art Nouveau designer R. Beauclair at the turn of the 20th century
  • In 2014, a gently-used Liberty of London leather bag with an embossed Ianthe pattern sold on eBay for $999

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