Friday, August 1, 2008

My 25yr love affair with Laura Ashley...

If there's one design label that will forever remain close to my heart it's Laura Ashley. I grew up in a home filled with LA wallpaper, curtains and accessories from a very young age. My mum is definately the person responsible for my strong affection for feminine fabrics and romantic furniture. Just like my daughter, I slept in a white iron bed and had lots of pretty pillows.

Here is a brief run down of the history of Laura Ashley -

Laura and Bernard Ashley started printing fabric on their kitchen table in London in 1953. Laura was inspired to make her own patchwork quilts, but couldn’t find any suitable fabrics in the shops, so the young enterprising couple decided to try producing their own.
A £10 investment in wood for a screen, dyes and some linen, along with many trips to libraries to learn everything about fabric printing, kick started their fledgling attempts.

Following their early experiments, Ashley Mountney Ltd was born, joining Laura’s maiden name with their married name, but soon it was decided that the name of the company should be changed to Laura Ashley, to reflect better the products they were making.

Laura’s love of all things Victorian led to the long length silhouette and feminine styles which would become the company’s trademark and was right on trend at the end of the 1960’s.

By 1975 the company had grown faster than anyone could have predicted - turnover had increased to £5 million per year, and the company now employed 1,000 people worldwide.

Tragedy struck however in 1985, when Laura died as a result of a fall down some stairs while visiting her children. The business felt her loss profoundly, but her strong values and design ethos remain with the company.

Under the leadership of the current Chief Executive Lillian Tan, the company has returned to profitability, posting profits of £12 million for the year 2006/2007. In April 2007 the company launched its first range of organic cotton fashion - the Archive Collection, based on Laura Ashley styles and prints from the 1960’s and 70’s. 2007 has also seen the company receive the House and Garden award for Design Retailer of the Year, voted for by the magazine’s readers, which acknowledges a retailer who has provided the best shopping experience in the past 18 months, both through the products sold, and the way they are displayed. This is a huge honour for the company, and reflects the progress made in recent years.

(information courtesy of Laura

While in my reminiscing phase this week I wandered over to the LA British website for a peek and to much excitement I found their newest catalogue.

LA is the kind of store that I could seriously walk into and purchase items to furnish my whole house, as well as buy outfits to wear in it.

They cater to most design tastes including traditional, provincial, mid century modern, contemporary, coastal as well as plenty for the kids.

I needed a napkin (preferably one of Shawn's or Judy's monogrammed beauties lol) to wipe the drool from perusing this heavenly collection.

I just had to pick a few or 20 pics to show you some of my favourites lol ;)

I LOVED this image of these rich brown leather chairs styled with the maps and globes as well as the beautiful duck egg wallpaper in the background.

The Padstow is the exact style of couch I'm shopping for at the moment however I'd like to have mine covered in unbleached linen. I love it's smaller round arms, high flat back and bottom pleats.

When it comes to my favourite colour - duck egg - Laura Ashley caters in ABUNDANCE.

Upholstry fabric, curtain fabric, ready made curtains, pillows, rugs, towels even prints. And it's the perfect shade, absolutely stunning.

Look at this incredible tufted duck egg sofa! Very British in style and ever so elegant. I have an old two seater tufted sofa a little similar (without the high legs) stored in the garage, passed down from my GP's. I would LOVE to have it covered in this magnificant fabric and in my new room, place it at the foot of my bed.

I am totally smitten with the DE bedspread, the DE floral fabric on the chaise, the DE lampshade and the mirrored bedside - LOVE!!

Again more DE perfection!

The coastal feel of this seagull parisian blue wallpaper is so appealing. It would look so great in a boys bedroom.

More coastal loveliness

This buffet reminds me of an old Parker mid century modern piece we have at the lake house. That French blue wall is the colour I want to paint my kitchen.

LA also make surperb unique provincial furniture.

Awww this forest friends bedding set for little princesses is too die for :)

I also love this bed. Have it covered in what ever fabric you like. I think this bold print works well with the simple elegant provincial bed. I can see Sophie wanting this bed in 7 years time - or perhaps me wanting it for Soph lol ;)

^^That bed with this venetain style mirroed armoire - Divine!

LA stock a dazzling array of curtain fabrics and ready made curtains including these sumptuous silks - Heaven!

And blissfully beautiful lace.

Exquisite chandeliers!

And now finally lets talk accessories!

very pretty storage boxes

cute and kitsch kitchenware

Wonderful white for indoors or out
I LOVE the vintage inspired floral prints.

And of course there are perfumes, in the sweetest little bottles!

Tassels and Trims

And lastly sparkly hardware.

Phew! That was a great shopping trip. Thank you for coming along with me :)

Now that I have exhausted every word for the meaning of beautiful in the oxford dictionary I'm sure you get the sense of my affinity for this designer. Cappuccino's and cupcakes anyone? ;)

To view 308 pages of supreme pleasure click here!


passion for rugs @ atticmag said...

What fun that was. You have such a keen eye. I'm finding a renewed love for blue after a five year hiatus from using the color in my home. Jane

mondo cherry said...

I bought our bed (white iron) from Laura Ashley and still love it. It is just a shame that so many of their great products don't make it out to Australia. Thanks for the history lesson and the gorgeous images you found. 308 pages? - I will have to make myself a cup of tea first!

A-M said...

Oh......what a SPECTACULAR post!!!!! Wow, you have put in some work. I love Laura... she and I go way back. I am going to borrow one of your beautiful bed images for my Monday bed post. I will sing your praises! Have a lovely weekend. A-M xx

lily-g said...

waht gorgeous images Laura Ashley is always a classic,I'm off to the website now, thanks for sharing it with us (thanks for the mention too)
Judy xx

Villa Anna said...

A-M - there you go again making me feel all warm and fuzzy with your uplifting comments

Anna :)

Villa Anna said...

Jane - Thank you! I think it's impossible to ever get sick of blue.

Anna ;)

Villa Anna said...

Clare - Welcome!

Anna :)

Villa Anna said...

Judy - you're most welcome.

Anna :)

Country French Antiques said...

I always loved her fabrics. Years ago there was a Laura Ashley clothing store here and I would just hang out there. Always made me feel good. I miss it!
Thanks for the trip!
Cupcake you have any wine?

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I am amazed at how extensive their line is now. Lovely!

Alkemie said...

Anna, Laura Ashley is an Insitution! Thank you for providing the brief history on this company - it's very interesting. I also Love the layout you did. the Pink bed and bedrooms are WOWWW.



Kris said...

Lovely!!! Those tassels and trims are to die for! Just a sweet collection and I agree you could design your whole home around her beautiful collections. I can not wait to see all the pages...thanks you again for sharing!

Jane of JaneZworld said...

Laura Ashley - love it all! Such a beautiful post to dream forward and back in tme, and then the 308 page catalogue.

I have saved it for more dreaming.
Love visitng Villa chic and elegant, and the hostess is so gracious.


Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

I've always loved Laura Ashley. Such style! I remember a Laura Ashley store in London back when I was there as a teenager, wow, so many years ago! And I bought a dress and perfume that I adored. Loved her style in both scents and beauty way back then.

Thanks for sharing these beautiful images!

happy night,

Millie said...

Many oohs & aahs Anna! Just like a bottle of fine red wine Laura Ashley justs gets better with age.

A little secret to share. I always keep 2 of my favourite pieces of clothing from each decade. One of my 2 from the 70's is a Laura Ashley blue & white print maxi dress, complete with high lace collar, puff sleeves & empire line!! Bought with my first pay packet to wear to my sister's wedding.!
Millie ^_^

Porchlight Interiors said...

Amazing post Anna, really love Laura - so classic and timeless. I always have to check out the latest window displays of the Laura Ashley at my local shopping centre. Tracey

vicki archer said...

Divine images today Anna.

annechovie said...

Great post, Anna! Like you, I grew up in a home with Laura Ashley Fever. I had "Wickerwork" wallpaper, a patchwork quilt, lampshades, pillows and wore the long dresses with poufy sleeves. Her stores have disappeared here in the US. Thanks for the update, and I had always wondered how she died - so tragic! Hope you have a great week.

AnastasiaC said...

i love it too - great style with class and tradition! their clothes are lovely too, i have some of their recent cardigans and tops and they are great quality!

London Calling said...

Loved browsing the catalog. Miss having the Laura Ashley shops in the US. Good stuff.

Teal Chic said...

Wonderful post and beautiful blog!!! :) Love, love, love it!!!!!!!

pinkstilettos said...

My My My- you really do have a love for Laura Ashley but I do also.I'm just not as devoted. Great post! Daisy~