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Image Liberty opera cape, 1920-25

TLF ID M000275

This is a full-length opera cape, made by Liberty and Company of England at some stage between 1920 and 1925. It is made of painted multicoloured silk with metallic weft threads creating an extravagant design of flowers and leaves. Intricately shaped across the shoulders, the cape gathers at the neck with a centre front opening that fastens with long tabs which have teardrop-shaped weighted ends. The dark brown fur collar has press studs at the corners to secure it when folded over. The cape is fully lined in gold-coloured metallic silk with a patch pocket on the wearer's inside right at the front.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This magnificent opera cape was made by Liberty and Company of London in about 1920. The rich brocaded silk is a very fine example of Liberty's exotic textiles and is probably a Liberty 'Art Fabric'. The gold brocaded pattern dwindles towards the hem, revealing softly coloured silk that appears to be handpainted. The fur collar adds to the very exclusive styling of this garment.
  • Arthur Lasenby Liberty (1843-1917) was very influential in the design of English women's dress and interiors. He opened the Lasenby Liberty and Co East India House in London in 1875. It was packed with exotic goods from China, India and Japan, reflecting the breadth of British colonial interests. The influence of Japan in particular, and his involvement with artists of the aesthetic movement, resulted in the production of comfortable and beautiful gowns. 
  • Liberty's focus was predominantly in textiles, and his shop opened its dress department with a studio and workrooms, supervised by E W Godwin, in 1884. He took a keen interest in what sold and made friendships with many artists and writers who were his clients. Sir George Birdwood stated at the Society of Arts in 1900 that Liberty's commercial success was achieved 'on artistic lines ... his predominating purpose throughout having been to seek ... to beautify and dignify all the material accessories of our characteristic English home life.'
  • Lasenby Liberty's artistic influence continued long after his death and the Liberty brand, with its unique textile specialisation, is still operating.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Powerhouse Museum
  • Organization: Powerhouse Museum
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: NSW, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Name: Liberty and Co
  • Organization: Liberty and Co
  • Description: Author
  • Address: England
  • Publisher
  • Name: Powerhouse Museum
  • Organization: Powerhouse Museum
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: NSW, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Curriculum Corporation and Trustees of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences 2009 (except where otherwise indicated). You may view, display, print out, copy and modify this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.