Label ‘Liberty Birmingham, London & Paris’
Acquired from Belinda Cadbury
The John Bright Collection owns several evening cloaks originally bought from the shop Liberty & Co, of which two are included on this website. Their simple flat construction designed to hang loosely on the body, softly coloured fabrics, and ornamentation of embroidered borders and motifs and silk tassels, which add to their oriental character, made them quintessential ‘Artistic’ garments. (See Related Items)
This example was acquired by a member of the Cadbury family, the chocolate manufacturer, from the Birmingham branch of Liberty which, in the early 20th Century, no doubt catered for the affluent manufacturing classes living in large Arts and Crafts houses in suburbs such as Edgebaston and Moseley.
The cloak is composed of four rectangles of dark sea green velvet lined in a lighter coloured silk. They are seamed at the centre back and down each side, the shoulders joined with faggoted embroidery leaving slits for the armholes. The simple rectangular construction produces a complex draped effect when worn. A large floral motif with symmetrically placed foliage is embroidered on each side of the large collar in toning shades of blue-green highlighted with tiny bronze beads.
Although we do not know which member of the family bought this cloak, she was not the first Cadbury to patronise Liberty. In 1891 the social reformer Geraldine Southall wore an uncompromisingly plain, asymmetrically draped cream silk dress by Liberty at her marriage to fellow Quaker Barrow Cadbury at the Friends Meeting House in Birmingham. Her bridesmaids wore co-ordinating dresses. The dress can be seen in the wedding photograph, and is now in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
See the dress here: http://www.bmagic.org.uk/objects/1968M68/images/142160
Find the wedding photograph in this book review from the Birmingham Mail: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/nostalgia/history-barrow-cadbury-trust-2547267