What?: Having never had a reason to venture up there before birthing a micro-human, I’d always imagined Liberty’s kidswear department as a land of heirloom Christening gowns, fancy formalwear and smocked floral frocks with matching knickers. Of course those things are available in their swathes, with the store’s signature ditsy prints appearing across all manner of bibs, baby toys, boys’ party shirts and frilly bloomers, but I was delighted to discover that Little Liberty does contemporary cool just as well as it does traditional charm, with collections by modern favourites Mini Rodini, Bobo Choses and Tinycottons all prominently displayed in the magical kids’ showroom.
Styles run from newborn to age 8, though as with most kidswear collections it’s the baby pieces that steal the show, with Tinycottons’ deckchair-stripe summer bodies, Bobo Choses’ tropical-print rompers and Stella McCartney Kids’ shell-embroidered sunhat providing sufficient reason to have another baby alone. For older kids, Mini Rodini’s new-season donkey and draco prints are everything, and ‘Activist’ by Cissy Wears’ no-itch slogan knits are a must, combining softness and comfort with powerful messages for mini militants to wear with pride. Favourites from the toy collection included Vilac’s miniature pianos and vintage ride-ons, Bookspeeds’ richly illustrated picture books and Maileg’s powder-pastel linen creatures (and I have to say I was more than a bit tempted by Donna Wilson’s Make Your Own Monster Kit).
The thing that particularly impressed me about Little Liberty though wasn’t the choice of prints, the well-curated brand selection or the way it had all been elegantly arranged to resemble the bedroom of London’s jammiest child, but how ridiculously – and unexpectedly – child-friendly it all was. Everything was free to be played with, from the horses both rocking and hobby to the books that were displayed alongside their very own cosy reading chair. Gone was the familiar presence of the unsubtle security guard pretending not to eyeball us while we browsed, and the friendly saleswoman didn’t even bat an eyelid when Bab decided it would be fun to empty the entire Bobo Choses rail and hand her the contents piece by piece. All in all this was a really lovely shopping experience (made even better by the fact that I managed to resist spending any money), and a surprisingly good tantrum-diffuser on a Central London shopping trip that was otherwise predictably miserable.
Where?: You’d have to be pretty imperceptive to miss Liberty’s imposing mock-Tudor Regent Street facade. Oxford Circus is just a two-minute walk from its doors, Piccadilly Circus is nine, and Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road are both 10.
Price Range: Apparel ranges from £6 for a pair of Liewood animal socks to £220 for a Kissy Kissy Christening gown and bonnet set. Toys start at £4 for a Meri Meri confetti thrower, going up to £280 for a Tamar Mogendorff linen and velvet narwhal or £275 for an Ooh Noo abstract rocking horse.
Best Bits: Big Stuffed’s albino sea creatures, Activist by Cissy Wears’ knitted jumpers and Mini Rodini’s ever-awesome prints all topped our wish-list.
Worst Bits: The child-friendly kids’ department is in alarmingly close proximity to the very un-child-friendly ceramics department and we came very close to having to buy a lot of broken pots.
Did We Buy?: Not today, but that was ok.
Would We Come Back?: Liberty is always fun to browse but it’s perhaps not the first place you’d think to take your ill-tempered toddler. We came here at the end of a very long, angry day when I was sort of past caring about anything, but I was really pleasantly surprised by the department’s chilled staff, its try-before-you-buy ethos and the fact that I felt under absolutely no pressure to spend any money.
Bab fires up the Vilac ride-on at Little Liberty, Soho.