Laura Ashley launched their 60th Anniversary Exhibition Preview and AW13 Press Show at the grand Il Bottaccio in London yesterday. Following our French photo diary flaunting the Laura Ashley summer range we were invited down to experience the beautifully curated exhibition featuring pieces from the rich Laura Ashley design archive.
Laura Ashley has long been a household name and one of Britain’s most successful design exports Internationally. The brand began back in 1953 with Laura Ashley and her husband Bernard Ashley printing small runs of headscarves, table clothes and tea towels on silk screen in their London flat. From the outset, Laura Ashley’s designs were inspired by the past, looking to rural English romanticism and Victorian design to create their best-selling headscarves.
Laura Ashley bloomed into a successful business, eventually moving to Wales where the factory and design studio were set up. Following their successful homeware range they moved into affordable fashion, quite serendipitously when they realised that customers were wearing their kangaroo pocketed smocks for social occasions. Laura Ashley’s designs were rooted in homeware addressing the lifestyle needs of women of the fifties. By the 1960’s Ashley’s Romantic English design aesthetic blossomed with the Laura Ashley fashion and home textiles becoming a household staple.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary, Laura Ashley have launched the Heritage Collection, showcasing five of their most iconic archival prints through wallpaper and fabrics, lovingly crafted in the UK. The AW13 range featured heritage staples with modern day wardrobe essentials mixing British design, countryesque prints with natural materials.
Laura Ashley have long combined their rural aesthetic with the lifestyle needs of inner city living, similar to that of Barbour. Barbour’s wax and quilted country jackets can be seen on the backs of inner city hip young men throughout England.
With the rise of retro, vintage and heritage fashion and styling reaching the mainstream on Britain’s high-street, now is the perfect time for long established English brands such and Laura Ashley to unearth their archive and celebrate their design success. Everyone of us probably has a memory of the Laura Ashley brand from childhood or as parents, the exhibition was a reflection of a true British family run business and proved there is still a place in our hearts for their romantic, country style.
Christine + Clare
The Fabulous Times