Laura Ashley is one of those shops that seems to have always been there, a permanent fixture on the great British high street and always the first shop we went when I needed a party dress as a child. It was only when I was invited to Laura Ashley’s press day that I learnt about the history of this classic British brand.
The Laura Ashley company started life as a husband and wife team printing table mats on their kitchen table. Inspired by a trip to Italy, and the fashion for wearing knotted neck scarves a la Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, they started to produce silk scarves. One of these original scarves, hand printed on the Ashley’s kitchen table was found recently in someone’s loft and donated to the Laura Ashley Archive. This distinctive mid century print, named Pelham after the location of the first shop, has been reintroduced to the collection and now graces fabrics, wallpaper, home furnishings, and of course is featured on a silk scarf. I think the story behind it is just wonderful: a little bit of fashion history. Not to mention it’s a gorgeous print, and not at all what you’d think of as classically ‘Laura Ashley’
Another great print plucked from the Laura Ashley Archives is the Emma print, a fresh floral print from the 1980s, named after the Ashley’s daughter. It looks lovely on special 60th anniversary mugs and candles.
It’s not just homeware team that have dipped into the archives for inspiration, the new fashion collection features some beautiful vintage inspired pieces that could have stepped straight of the 60s.Original Laura Ashley on the left, new collection the right