When I was a kid growing up I loved going into the Laura Ashley store we had in my hometown of Houston, Texas. Everything was so beautiful from the clothes to the house ware. I remember when I was 12 my Mom finally bought me a bed room set of sheets, curtains and pillows for my room and I was so happy I would just lay on my bed smiling. It evoked another time and place for me, like being transported back in time to a Jane Austen novel or something of that nature. When I got to high school I was into punk and new wave, but my girlfriends and I became obsessed with Laura Ashley and started wearing her dresses with crazy hair and makeup and old victorian granny boots and 1940's shoes. It was like old west prairie girls go punk!
Laura Ashley herself was a welsh fashion designer and got her start designing designed headscarves, napkins, table mats and tea-towels for the Women's Institute on quilt work, which her husband Bernard printed on a machine he had designed in their attic flat. Laura's inspiration to start producing printed fabric came from a Women's Institute display of traditional handicrafts at the Victoria & Albert Museum. When she began looking for small patches carrying Victorian designs to help her make patchworks, she found no such thing existed. Here was her opportunity, and she started to print Victorian style headscarves in 1953. The Ashleys' scarves quickly became successful with stores, retailing both via mail order and high street chains such as John Lewis - Bernard left his city job to print fabrics full time. This put them on the road to becoming an international company with a brand that is recognized around the globe. Laura designed the prints and Bernard built the printing equipment; Laura remained in charge of design until shortly before her death, while Bernard handled the operational side. Laura Ashley's first shop was opened in Machynlleth, Powys (35 Maengwyn Street) in London.
I Have never really been a collector of one thing in particular but today I have the sudden urge to start collecting vintage Laura Ashley. Maybe some of these designs below will inspire some of you to start your own Laura Ashley Collections.