“Hera” is one of the most iconic fabric designs of all time but also in the history of Liberty of London. The pattern was designed in 1887 by Arthur Silver. The name “Hera” is derived from the Greek goddess whose favorite animal was the peacock. Liberty acquired the design from Arthur Silver’s studio and has printed it on scarves, fabric, stationary and many other iterations over the years. It is still available from Liberty as a furnishing fabric. I also discovered that Liberty has been updating the iconic pattern’s layout and colors and has produced new scarves that are stunning.
In researching the peacock feather motif in textiles and wallpaper I came across this beautiful artwork on The Cooper Hewitt website (they have an amazing digital database of their archives online!). These drawings were done in 1960 by Harvey Smith apparently in preparation for a wallpaper that was ultimately printed by Piazza Prints Inc. a few years later. The final result is below – such a great pattern.
Peacock drawings for wallpaper and textile, designed by Harvey Smith 1960. Image courtesy of Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum
Other well recognized patterns featuring peacock feathers are by the legendary Australian designer Florence Broadhurst. Broadhurst created bold modern designs that were quite original for her time – the late 1960’s-70’s. She established her studio in Sydney where she concentrated on wallpaper. Her designs eventually were printed on fabric and are still in production today by Signature Prints.
The fashion designer Matthew Williamson creates some of the most exciting prints today. His studio really celebrates color, exoticism and joy in its patterns. The peacock motif has become a signature for his brand, starting with his very first fashion show in the 1990’s. The pattern has evolved over the years and there are many iterations through his fashion, rug designs and wallpaper. It’s fascinating to see how one pattern is updated and reworked by changing the layout, scale and colors.
This recent version of the peacock feather design is Williamson’s Leopardo wallpaper for Osborne & Little. It is a brilliant maximalist mash up – pairing the peacock feathers with leopards. And the color combinations are really unique and so chic.