Laura Ashley stores are quite popular in Australia, mainly for the line of home furnishings. I went to a store in the CBD (Central Business District) of Perth, the capital of Western Australia, last week, and bought myself a nice pair of coloured jeans. My jeans are size 6 and in a lovely “umber” or natural earth colour, and are 98 percent cotton with polyester lining. The fabric is beautifully soft and smooth, and the fit is just right, with tucking up the legs a little. I love coloured jeans and had a pair of red jeans followed by a pair of green jeans years ago. Now I have “umber” jeans from Laura Ashley, thanks to the end-of-the-year Sale. These jeans were already 50 percent off and a sign read “take a further 25 percent off” so I did just that, and got my Jeans for around $36.
Laura Ashley was born Laura Mountney, on 7th September 1925 in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. In 1949 she married Bernard Ashley, a grocer’s son. The couple honeymooned in Alfriston, in Sussex. Soon after, they rented three rooms in Pimlico, a small area of central London in the City of Westminster, and at their kitchen table, started a textile company that became famous.
While working as a secretary and raising her first two children, Laura undertook some development work for the Women’s Institute on quilt work. Taking up the craft she had learnt with her grandmother, part-time she designed headscarves, napkins, table mats and tea-towels which Bernard printed on a machine he had designed in their attic flat in Pimlico.
Bernard wanted her to run a business and make money, while he, a budding author, engaged in his writing endeavours. It was his idea to call their company by a feminine name, “Laura Ashley”. The Ashleys’ scarves quickly became successful with stores, retailing both via mail order and high street chains. Bernard left his city job to print fabrics full-time.
The first true Laura Ashley dresses were made in 1966. These dresses had a rural, old fashioned feel, and were right in step with the craze for nostalgia in dressing that came with the end of the 1960s.
Eventually, “the Ashleys became known for their mumsy floral prints, inspired by patchwork quilting, shards from a soup tureen and Victorian-era endpapers. “
Laura was the design genius – she had originally been inspired by a visit to an exhibition of traditional handcrafts at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Bernard was the business and technical brain, a former Gurkha army officer and skilled engineer who applied military zeal and drive to sales and growth.
Laura Ashley may have been one of the most successful and inspired designers of her time, but sadly, some claim that she virtually turned herself into a Stepford Wife for Bernard, anything, so long as she kept him happy.
By the 1980′s, there were over 200 Laura Ashley stores all over the world, filled with cotton and linen dresses, crisp white blouses, nightgowns, straw hats, lampshades, flowery umbrellas, dishes, fabric, wedding dresses, sheets and comforters, and wallpaper all in the softest, most beautiful colors and classic styles.
By the late 1990s, the US business was struggling, and was sold. The North American Laura Ashley stores were closed, but their home furnishings were licensed and sold through other retailers. Today, Laura Ashley clothing is sold mainly in the UK, but a few North American stores carry the line as well.
To look at some labels of genuine Laura Ashley clothes, please click on THIS link here.
To look at some lovely genuine vintage Laura Ashley clothes, please visit the links BELOW