Monday, 28 January 2013

Happy 60th Birthday Laura Ashley

Hi Lovelies,
I am so glad I get to share this post with you :)
I have been planning it since I attended the SS13 Press day in November last year.

Laura Ashley is one of the biggest known UK brands in the UK; it started in 1953, which makes this year its 60th Birthday.
I have very early and found memories of Laura Ashley, I was 6 or 7 when my aunt took me to chose a new bed spread for my room at her cottage. I remember visiting the shop and being given full reign over what I wanted. There were so many different patterns; I clearly remember a pink candy striped duvet cover with small yellow & pink flowers. I came away with a blue and white floral print, which my aunt still has :)
At the press show they had brought with them a number of items from their Archives and I cheekily joked about visiting the Laura Ashley archives. I so was amazed when the lovely ladies replied “of course anytime”. I cannot tell you how excited I was!! 
So a couple of Monday’s ago I put on my favourite vintage dress, grab Annie Afghan and made my way down to their Head Office. I was taken to meet the archivist Angela who talked me though all the lovely pieces. We spoke about how Laura Ashley first undertook some development work for the Women's Institute on quilt work and designed headscarves, napkins, table-mats and tea towels which Bernard her husband would print on the kitchen table of their flat Pimlico. 
The company was moved to Kent in 1955, then 1961 it was moved to Wales where Laura was born and had spent much of her childhood following the birth of their third child. So if you find any of the beautiful tea towels that have made in England on them, they date back to before 1961. 

I was amazed to find out that Laura Ashley’s first scent No1 was re-launched the end of last year and sold out in a matter of hours. Angela showed me the scent set from when it was first launched. 
 How pretty is the bottle :)

There was so much to see and talk about; including books full of fabric samples and even a blue floral onesy (… is that how you spell it?) Laura Ashley sure where ahead of the fashions… like way ahead :) Although you still wouldn’t find me in one even if it was by Laura Ashley. 
I was surprised to find out that the Archive at the Head Office was only part of the collection; there is actually a warehouse in Wales too. Where they store so many other items, could you imagine me in that warehouse? I'd go mad with lust :)

Here is a very small selection of the dresses that they have, my favourite is the pink on the right.

The last item I saw was this Headscarf which is one of the very first to be printed. A customer donated this, which was a really amazing donation as Angela told me that not all items were kept and some were even destroyed when the old room used for archiving was flooded. As I understand the archives do collect new items but they rely on donations when it comes to more of the vintage items. So if you have any Laura Ashley items you no longer use and would like to donate just drop them a tweet.

I am very proud that we still have such wonderful British Heritage brands going strong, it really makes me smile. It is amazing to see where they come from, how they develop and how many people still love the brand. 

 I would like to say a big thank you to the Laura Ashley team for allowing me to visit and a special thank you to Emma and Angela for spending the afternoon sharing all there wonderful collection. 

I hope you enjoyed this unusually long post; there were so many things to share. 

Have a great week. 
Ciao for now 
Love Katrina xx

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