Last time I made a shirt in Liberty’s iconic ‘Hera’ design, I wrote that it was designed by Arthur Silver of Silver Studios. I was working from a book by Barbara Morris, published in 1975 on the occasion of Liberty’s Centenary exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Not long afterwards, I received an email from the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture at University of Middlesex to say that it had more likely been designed by this venerable gentleman: the pioneer designer Christopher Dresser (1834 – 1904).
Harry Lyons, author of ‘Christopher Dresser: The People’s Designer’ has been in touch and added some information. He tells me that
“The “Hera” design was registered as a woven silk in 1876 by William Fry, Dublin – a company to whom Dr Dresser supplied designs. At that time Silver was aged 23 and working for HW Batley. The Silver Studio did not get going until c1882/3.”
So it seems like it was almost certainly Christopher Dresser who designed those beautiful peacock feathers. They have been used in many different forms – I once had an Arts & Crafts settle whose seats were covered in a woven Liberty furnishing fabric in the design and there have been some beautiful silk scarves based on it. But this is what it looks like when it’s printed on Liberty’s famous cotton fabric, tana lawn. And made into a western shirt.