Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley

Lived from 1925 till 1985, Laura Ashley was a Welsh businesswoman and fashion designer. Originally, she started off by making materials for furnishing in 1950s. Later on, she expanded her business into designing and manufacturing clothes. Laura Ashley’s style has been characterized as having design elements of Romantic English and often gives a nineteenth century rural look and feel. She grew up to be a Strict Baptist and attended a chapel in Hebron. Although she didn’t get the language, she loved the singing there. Before 1932, he studied in Merthyr Tydfil at Marshall’s School, then moved to Elmwood School in Croydon. At the age of thirteen, she returned to Wales and joined Aberdare Secretarial School. In 1942, she quit school and served in Women’s Royal Naval Service. After the second world war, she married Bernard Ashley, an engineer. Between 1945 and 1952, she was appointed as secretary in London at the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.

Both Bernard and Laura were perfect for each other in terms of their personal and professional lives. The two not only took care of their children but also gave their best in their work life. Their children were interested in the business. The children took up different jobs, such as designing the shops, doing photography for the company, and being part of the fashion design group. Bernard was the chairman and Laura managed the fabrics. The family became successful, so much so, that they could afford a private plane, yacht and a chateau, town house and villa Contenta in Picardy, Brussels and Bahamas, respectively.

The couple invested their time and energy to make their business grow. They used inspiration and their own creativity. Laura and Bernard printed and designed napkins, headscarves, tea towels and table mats. Laura was the designer and Bernard was in charge of printing. The scarves made by the Ashley family became very popular and started shelving in retail stores and selling via mail order. Their brand soon became recognized around the globe. Initially, the company was called Ashley Mountney and later it became known as Laura Ashley. The first shop of the company was launched in Machynlleth in Powys.

In 1975, Laura did not accept an OBE since Bernard was not offered an award. However, after her death, Bernard was knighted. In 1985, when Laura was on a visit to meet her children in the United Kingdom, she fell off the stairs in her daughter’s home. She died 10 days later from a brain hemorrhage. Laura was buried in Wales. In 1987, a foundation was set up with Laura’s name by Bernard in order to help people realize their talent and potential. Much later, in 2009 Bernard died from cancer.

Laura Ashley’s name became a trademark in making repetitive small patterns, using natural fabrics and applying elegant simplicity in women’s designs and styles. Blouses and dresses produced by her were admired for their full sleeves and high necks similar to that from the Victorian era. The severity of the outfits were relieved by ruffles and lace. Her brand soon became a special type of look that linked the past to the present. As and when the Ashley’s expanded their business, not only women but men also became interested in their household accessories. To date Laura Ashley is remembered for her unique approach towards fashion and interior design.