Remembering Laura Ashley

Remembering Laura Ashley…

n 1953, a young (twenty-eight) Welsh secretary, Laura Ashley, living in a small flat in London with her husband and two little children, was working on a quilt project; a craft she had learned from her grandmother. She was looking for certain kinds of Victorian fabric designs to use in her quilt but couldn’t find the colors and patterns she wanted.

nspired by printed fabric she had seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum, she designed what she was envisioning, which her husband, Bernard Ashley, then printed on a few yards of linen on a machine he made himself in their attic apartment. That was the beginning; the original investment was about $20. But worth a gazillion in display of faith and pluck.

ooking at her work, I think her fabric designs were inspired by the old quilts she grew up with; the clear yellows and blues, soft romantic pinks, old fashioned milky greens; and the simple florals and prints you see in vintage quilts. I think maybe she was also in love with old China dishes. These two inspiration assignments are just conjecture on my part, because these are things that inspired my watercolors and I always felt she and I must be some kind of kindred spirits when it came to the colors and patterns we love.

he cotton scarves Laura and Bernard made in 1953 were an immediate hit in local stores. People fell in love with their style and color sense. Soon Bernard left his job to print fabrics and run their blossoming business full time. They did it all themselves, built their business slowly, and at the same time, continued to grow their family. It was Bernard’s idea to call the business Laura Ashley; he thought it should have a feminine name.

Behind every great woman, there’s a great man (if she’s lucky), preferably one who cooks.

y the 1980′s, there were over 200 Laura Ashley stores all over the world, filled with the most wonderful things you’ve ever seen: cotton and linen dresses, crisp white blouses, nightgowns, straw hats, lampshades, flowery umbrellas, dishes, fabric, wedding dresses, sheets and comforters, and wallpaper all in the softest, most beautiful colors and classic styles. Laura Ashley was shabby chic before shabby was chic! Maybe she was a tad chic-er than shabby, but her things all had a very soft romantic feel to them. I still have decorating books she produced that show her classic design sense in the houses she and her family lived in. Laura and Bernard Ashley changed the way millions of people decorated and thought about the comforts of home.

discovered Laura Ashley when I first came to New England. Whenever I left Martha’s Vineyard, I was always lost on the roads, especially when I got into the bigger cities, but still, like one of those beach geiger counters, the beep-beep in my head got louder and stronger as I honed in on the Laura Ashley store on Newbury Street in Boston. I never missed an opportunity to visit; would go to Boston just to go to that store, to be surrounded in the fresh colors I loved. I wallpapered my bedroom in my first house on the island in a sky-blue Laura Ashley print, and loved to wake up, still dreaming, in that blue cloud and listen to the birds singing, or watch the snow falling outside my windows.

remember one spring day, it might have been the first mild day of that year; I drove to Boston because I had a hair appointment. The daffodils were in bloom in The Common; I bought new dress at Laura Ashley. I wore it out of the store, walked up the street (thinking myself adorable, like Diane Keaton), went to my hairdressers where I got my hair cut — all clean and shiny, I then took myself and my Country Living magazine to lunch at a sidewalk cafe. That day is fresh in my memory; I remember feeling so happy and free and lucky in the sunshine with my new dress and haircut!

he Laura Ashley store was small, very close to The Ritz Hotel. The first thing you saw when you walked into the shop, was a table in the window set with Laura Ashley dishes for a tea party, on a Laura Ashley linen table cloth, with linen napkins and etched glassware. A person wanted to sit right down, drape herself with a napkin, pour the tea, click the cups into their saucers, but you couldn’t stop because there was more…

Just behind that was the clothing, rows of pure white cotton blouses, fitted with details such as capped sleeves, darts, covered buttons, some of them slightly gathered at the shoulder, some with stand-up collars; labels reading “cotton,” and “linen;” Made in Great Britain. The dresses were along the wall; skirts fluffed out like a colorful flower garden. The wedding dresses were toward the back in a glass case, like dessert, all whipped cream and lace; the furniture, wallpaper, and bolts of fabric, were up on a raised platform. It was heaven in there. I could’ve lived there.

ou won’t find Laura Ashley on Newbury Street anymore, because (big disappointment to find out, I’m quite against it) nothing stays the same; the store is gone. In 1985, there was a terrible accident. On her sixtieth birthday, much too young, Laura Ashley fell down a set of stairs at her daughter Jane’s house and died a few days later of a brain hemorrhage. Even though her name lives on, the Ashley family is no longer associated with the company. The heart had gone out of it for them; the designing woman, cherished wife, and mother of four children was gone, taking the color sense, the genius that was Laura Ashley, with her.

irls, if you never saw a Laura Ashley store you don’t know what you missed. I still have this wonderful hat, which I’ve never looked good in (I look like a bowling ball in it, it covers my eyes down to the tip of my nose). I knew I’d probably never wear it when I bought it, but I still could not resist such an adorable hat; it must be twenty-five years old now. I keep it in my studio, have painted it many times.

hen I think of inspiration, I think of Laura Ashley. She made the world a prettier place to live.

Are you a kindred spirit too? Comments…

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421 Responses to Remembering Laura Ashley

  1. ann marden says:

    I probalby should be ashamed to admit the following but I STILL have a bedding ensemble that is (older than I care to remember) if I even could . It is the one with the petite pink fleurs with a small green leaf on a wwhite background.I just cant bear to part with them . I so love(d) everything she created and designed.

    • sbranch says:

      I think I still have a pair of pillowcases — I know I have a robe! It’s hard to let these things go.

    • Susanpub says:

      I STILL use my Laura Ashley towels & sheets (they are pretty pale now) that I bought in the late 1980′s. They wear like iron. I also bought some towels at Kohl’s a few years ago, but sadly, they don’t carry L.A. anymore.
      The pattern is Palmetto & I’d buy it again (if I didn’t already have a 2nd barely used set in a box…)

    • Erin Middlebrooks says:

      It sounds like my favorite…Cottage Sprig. It came in a couple colours. I like the pink flower with two tiny green leaves.

  2. sandy says:

    how can i find a name of laura ashley vintage fabric made in holland? ive been looking for years for it!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry, I’m not sure what that fabric is!

    • kate davis says:

      hi sandy,

      were you ever able to find a resource for names of the different laura ashley fabrics? i know you were just looking for the name of one fabric and i was wondering if you ever found it and how?

      thanks,

      kate

  3. Ann Singer says:

    Laura Ashley’s fabric catalogue is represented by Kravet fabrics …you may find the old patterns there…check out..don’t bother itemizing just after getting on page to “go”
    kravet.com/search/fabselect.asp?code=ASH

    you must remember Janet Russo clothing from Martha’s Vineyard circa 1977…

    • sbranch says:

      Our girlfriends are a wonderful resource, someone always knows the answer for any question! Thank you Ann! If you are meaning me, I didn’t get to the island until 1982 .. so I don’t recognize that name … I think I wish I did!

  4. Denise Donoghue says:

    I still have my entire bedroom done in Laura Ashley it feels like spring every day!

  5. marianne says:

    I used to order the perfume which i LOVED and the Christmas wrapping paper–i think from Montreal back in the eighties—i always loved Laura Ashley and still do–my sister just bought an entire bed ensemble—-I tried to order a calendar from your website but i see you are out—i will look at amazon! i was SURE someone would get me one for Christmas!!!

    • barbara smith says:

      I went to a Laura Ashley store in Ottawa-bought a maternity dress and felt beautiful!!-my son is now 29yrs old!! and the perfume made you feel you WERE living her life-ahhh!!

  6. Karen Albert says:

    Thankyou for taking us down “memory lane” of Laura Ashley! I smile as I read your blog! When my first child was born, my sister gave me a bottle of No.1 perfume, still have it on my dressing table, 22 yrs later! Also have, tucked away in my cedar chest a quilt kit of Laura Ashely fabric squares from back then….one day i will make it….the fabric is still in the package! makes me smile! thanks again for the memory of that wonderful store!! blessins, Karen

  7. Traci Winyard says:

    Thank you for your memories of Laura Ashley. I have wondered why she is no longer mentioned anywhere, and why the stores are gone.
    I too LOVED her designs and colors! They were romantic, pretty, cheerful, and soothing. I was in my twenties then, and she is STILL my favorite fabric designer.

  8. Sandy Forbes says:

    Oh my goodness…YES! I feel like we’re kindred spirits! Every time I read your blog or get on your website I have to exclaim out loud: “AH! EXACTLY!” I had the most gorgeous Laura Ashley dress that I kept for years beyond being able to fit into it; my babies’ nursery was decorated in Laura Ashley; I have an entire dream bathroom decor in the works that I named “James Herriot meets Laura Ashley”. It will include lots of menswear pattern because the room is used by our teenaged boys; plus show my love of England and all things feminine–white linen ruffles and covered buttons and an antique beaded silver sugar bowl and creamer set for cotton balls and swabs!–because it’s the guest bath too. Anyway, just had to remark on your “Remembering Laura Ashley” page because I felt the same way about her and wanted you to know that I feel the same way about YOUR designs, Susan! YOU make the world a prettier place to live!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Sandy! Love the name for your dream bathroom decor! Could be very cute. Laura Ashley cows or little old Austins.

  9. Norah says:

    Hi Susan,

    I wore a Laura Ashley dress for my first wedding. It had the high collar and was sheer at the top. Ecru colored. The skirt was full. I paid $75. 00 for it. That was a lot of money for me then. Actually had it on lay-a-way. Lovely 3/4 length dress.

    I also wore if for my son’s baptism. So I have a number of pics of it. It had the covered buttons. I wore my hair in an updo with it.

    The marriage did not last. But I loved that dress. I cut the skirt off it. Then hemmed the top part and used it for a blouse for quite a while. Very Gibson Girl

    I have been to England. The sheep interesting as I am a knitter. Ireland is where I really want to go, tho

    I buy your calenders and have one of your books. I love that the calenders have suggestion for each month.

    Thanks for all the loveliness

  10. Linda says:

    Thank you for such a lovely memory page, I am still a Laura Ashley fan but much prefer the old designs from the 80′s. I am still making patchwork quilts from her vintage designs – I also think that the style of Diana, Princess of Wales goes hand in glove with LA.

  11. Bobetta says:

    Just found you here today and have spent the whole afternoon wandering around your beautiful blog world. My kitchen is still wallpapered in a Laura Ashley yellow and white check that was done in 1997. It’s getting shabby around the edges but I can’t bear to part with it and it has remained timeless. I loved those floral print overall bloomers she did too. Wish I still had mine! Wish your new book was going to be done soon, Hubby and I are planning our trip to Britain for this fall and would love your guidance! I’m so happy to have found your “charming” little corner here on the “interweb”! Love your movie list too! Thank you, Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      You are so welcome! Hopefully the book will arrive just in time! No matter what I’m sure you will love your trip!

  12. Mary says:

    I live in SW Ohio(Cincinnati area).There was a Laura Ashley store in one of the malls here for a long time.I loved strolling through the store,admiring the gorgeous linens and the clothing( which my dimensions would never allow me to fit into).I never had much money to buy her goods but it did not stop me from enjoying the window shopping.Another favorite shop just a few doors from Laura Ashley was Crabtree & Evelyn,Summerhill is still a favorite scent and I treat myself to it as often as possible.

  13. Karen Rogers says:

    Truly unique dress. I am a kindred spirit. I married a kindred spirit. My two children are kindred spirits. Now all I need is a dress like that one to wear this summer.
    P.s. was that a tip of the cap to Anne Shirley?

  14. Robin says:

    Oh how I loved our Laura Ashley store! I saved and saved to purchase dresses there. One Easter my daughter (who was about 8 at the time) and I got matching sailor dresses – except her’s was green and mine was pink. Then, during my first trip to England in, 1987, I went to a Laura Ashley store in London. How my little heart rejoiced that I had hit an “end of summer” sale and was able to purchase two dresses, two scarves and a picture frame for what I spent on one dress here in the states! My husband was also very indulgent in letting me do our bedroom in Laura Ashley in the 80′s. A favorite memory to be sure.

  15. Judy says:

    My bridesmaids’ and matron’s of honour dresses came from the Laura Ashley — they were so beautiful (the ladies, too)! Sadly, I don’t have any of the things left that I bought from her stores so many years ago. But in August 2011, I went to England to meet some of my fella’s family. They took me to the local town of Worthing and THERE was a Laura Ashley shop. Even though the style has changed, I could have spent days in that shop alone. I didn’t buy any clothes, but I did buy two big pieces of fabric, one of which now hangs as curtains in our dining room. We have no LA shops left in Canada now — so very sad. But my English sister-in-law lets me know when there are sales on in Worthing. At least I can dream.

    • sbranch says:

      I went to a Laura Ashley when I was in England . . . it wasn’t the old Laura Ashley, but it was still really nice.

  16. Maria in Long Beach, CA says:

    I still remember the Laura Ashley store in South Coast Plaza(?)…somewhere here in CA. Love!! I had no idea she had died at such a young age and so tragically. She left us with so much beauty.

    • Cheyenne Renard says:

      I also used to go to the South Coast Plaza Store of Laura Ashley, i was thinkin of that when i read this post , which is a year later since its now Jan 13 of 2014. I love her things n did not know what happened to her. So many of the things from the 80s were and are still great. Thank you for the wonderful memories. I also loved Liberty of London which also has a web site n store some of the fabrics they have remind me of LA so do check that out also if you go to London . I would love to go into a time mach and go back to the 80s n get the things that are no longer avail today what times we would have . Boy howdy . Again Thank you for the blast from the past XXX

  17. Deborah Fogelman says:

    Hi Susan, I too was/am a Laura Ashley fan. I remember visiting her stores first at any mall I went to in Southern California, where I grew up. The bolts of fabric and signature drop waist dresses are still so clear in my mind. I loved her feminine white blouses with the lace trims and crisp florals ~ so very English! Of course, at the time, I always had to look toward the back of the store at her “sale rail”, because I was a struggling college student, but I always was inspired by her lovely stores. I can’t bear to give up my stash of her decorating books either! On my first trip to England and the Laura Ashley stores there, I was in Heaven! When she died so young, I was saddened and couldn’t believe it. The world lost a wonderful designer that day.

  18. sandra graham says:

    Just loved your “tribute” to Laura Ashley. I was always so happy to wander around her store in South Coast Plaza (SoCal) and decorated our bedroom in her fabrics, including two lampshades that I still have! By the way, I am taking watercolor classes — do you have a “favorite” type of watercolor paint? Just a dream that if I use your same type of paint that my art work would look like yours!!!

    • Cheyenne Renard says:

      Sue i also would like to know what is some of your favs too so if you post that i would love to know that too . Thank you XXX

  19. Oh, I am so happy I found your blog and website. I have always loved your style! I can’t resist commenting on your story about Laura Asheley — I love Laura Ashley — she is one of my role models!

    I smiled when I saw my kitchen wall paper (blue & while flowers) from my first condo in your blog!

    I wore Laura Ashley dresses when I was pregnant. I had three nurseries in three different houses, but I painted them all the same soft, pale yellow and moved in my Laura Ashley white eyelet bedding and Beatrix Potter books and the little rocking chair I nursed my babies in with a yellow-white-blue striped L.A. fabric! It was perfectly lovely for my two boys, then my daughter!

    I even met Nick Ashley in London following his mother’s retirement (when she was living in France (?) I have created little whimsical characters and I could envision them wearing Laura Ashley clothes. It was so exciting meeting with him.
    I am sad to know that name is no longer associated with the family.

    Thank you for sharing this delightful story! It brings a smile to my face on this blustery, cold and snowy New England Day!

  20. Barbara says:

    Dear Susan,
    I was the first person to suggest that you write a book about England on your blog. Do I get an autographed copy too?
    Barb

    • sbranch says:

      absolutely! :-)

      • Barbara says:

        Thank you so much Susan! I am beyond excited!

        • Barbara says:

          Hi Susan,
          I am so looking forward to recieving the promised copy of the “Fine Romance”. I feel like a child before Christmas… counting the sleeps. I am so excited to read your book and see England through your eyes. Do you want me to send you my address?
          Barb

          • sbranch says:

            I think your address probably came with your order … I’m excited to Barbara, know exactly how you feel!

          • Barbara says:

            Hi Susan,
            I did not order one as I thought you were giving me a free copy for being the first to suggest that you write a book about England on your blog. Very disappointing.

          • sbranch says:

            Barbara, you probably don’t know but when Joe and I went to England in 2004, I kept a diary the entire time. A hand written diary just like A Fine Romance, with watercolors and photographs. I’m going to bring it with me to book signings for show and tell, how the idea got started. I’m really unaware, I know we did give one book away in a drawing, but I didn’t think I’d promised any others. I do try to keep track of those things! I’m sorry if there’s a misunderstanding.

  21. Donna Knight says:

    Dear Susan,
    I know I am a bit late in catching up on all your doings… it appears that I haven’t been receiving your newsletter, as I have in the past!?
    Now that I’ve located your blog (via facebook), I can enjoy your lovely writing and reminiscenses.
    I too fondly remember the beauty of Laura Ashley. Your description of walking into one of her stores, for the first time, was right on. Seeing her glorious printed fabrics, wall coverings and clothing was awe inspiring… especially for someone who could barely afford the wrapping paper. I did finally acquire a dress from one of the sale racks.
    “Thanks for the memories…”

  22. anne-marie vogt says:

    Wow! How wonderful to read this! We must be girlfriends! I had that same blue wallpaper in my bedroom in my first house. I had the coordinating curtains and comforter and dust ruffle too. I loved shopping at her store in New Jersey. Over the years I bought 2 sundresses…they both were so pretty. One had bright blue and pick flowers…so dreamily feminine. The other was pure white cotton. Oh I remember feeling so pretty. Thank you for bringing me down memory lane. Oh and I just remembered that I bought a sweet little wool coat for my four year old son. He looked adoreable in that little green coat…22 yrs ago!

  23. Shefali Mihelich says:

    Susan,

    I have been following you for years and even got my sister in England following you. We both love your Calendars and it is part of my Christmas gift to her every year. She lives in the Cotswolds in a beautiful cottage and your pictures remind me of her which is such a great way to connect when we are not on the phone. Anyway, I too love Laura Ashley and I wore the prettiest dress for my baby shower 18 years ago. We had Laura Ashley linens and I too had the cutest bowler hat. Thanks for bringing back such lovely memories.
    Shefali

  24. Jenny says:

    I was just showing someone at work your website. Laura Ashley inspired so many women to be creative in their homes. In 1985 My husband and I owned and ran a hotel in Lyme Regis , England. We had three rooms decorated in Laura Ashley fabrics. They were very romantic and even the men wanted to stay in them! Thank you for taking me back down memory lane! I still also have your 1st book! I love seeing your blogs. Jenny from Carmel Ca.

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Jenny! Nice to see you here!

      • Cheyenne Renard says:

        I just love love love Carmel California too very creative . I would love to move there , what is it like to live there, what do u love about Carmel i got to say caramel ha ha . I also love the artist colony near Hearst Castle. I cant recall the name its not San Luis Obispo either starts with a B or C very quaint n has nice stores its a touist place. Will have to try to remember the name . We used to go to Hearst Castle alot n used to go the the pharmacy in this town at that time had a tiny baby n need meds so that was the closest Pharmacy in that town Oh Cambria . thats the name . Cambria reminds me of Carmel are they alike ? at any rate love the town . Have a great week .

  25. Michelle McDonald says:

    I still have a bottle of her perfume on my counter….scent is almost gone, but can’t get rid of it. Loved her fabrics also!

  26. Phyllis Skalko says:

    Susan Thank You so Much for reminding me about Laura Ashley. I am a late comer to the Parade of Grateful, Awed, Joyful admirers of your exquisite vision of the world. I found out about you in a Quilt store a friend of mine took me too when I visited her on Vashon Island in Washington state. Her niece had made a sample quilt with your Vineyard fabrics and I just about cried seeing your fabrics. Of course I bought everything…they remain in a special box with your pattern included just waiting to be patched and quilted.
    I have been meaning to write you and thank you for bringing such beauty and whimsy into my life. How I wish I could draw what makes me so happy…but then I have you to do it for me! How wonderful to know someone else cherishes and loves what I do….who knew there were so many “Sisters/ Girlfriends” out there! You have made a place for us to share.

    But I digress…..Laura Ashley was (along with Lanz ) the designer(s) I wished I could afford too….I would save my money and but just one piece at a time. I would dream of one day having the linens too. As time went on and new styles came along I packed away those blouses, dresses and skirts…I just could not give them away. Years have passed and I am retired now and have a cottage on my property that had boxes of “Corporate Work” clothes and clothes that were packed away. My daughter came up to help me go thru the 8 Moving boxes with the clothes. Unfortunately some of the boxes got damp and mildewed and my Laura Ashley clothes got partly ruined and STILL I could not throw them away. You reminded me that I saved the Blue with pink roses – tiered full skirt just for the fabric that was not ruined. The pink blouse with puff sleeves and tucks down the front….too sweet to give away….So now I need to find WHEREI PUT them …They should be made into something so I can enjoy seeing those fabulous prints. Oh, I hope I saved more of the pieces. I remember how I felt wearing them…so special.
    So again, thank you for your tribute to her and for stirring up such good memories. Phylllis

    • sbranch says:

      How great — you could make a quilt out of them!!! Wouldn’t that be gorgeous!?! Her fabrics were so charming. Nice to meet you Phyllis!

      • Phyllis Skalko says:

        Great Suggestion Susan….will let you know what I do with the fabric..tho you should see my “sewing” room…it is loaded with 30′s fabric, Kaffe Fassett fabrics, your fabric, Shabby Chic projects, cowboy alfalfa sacks, and tons of realllllllll feed sacks…I just love looking at them and touching and refolding them and putting them in color order……fabriholic I think the term is for me…I even have my original sewing machine a 1957 Necchi in a dusty rose, my Second hand Janome, TWO Singer Featherweights annnnnnnnnnnnnd the new small Bernina..so there is no excuse for all that fabric just sitting there waiting to be spun into something wonderful…cannot seem to get my mojo going….Ideas galore just have to put them in motion….So thank you for all the inspiration …

  27. Katherine Magnowski says:

    In 1985 I worked in the Laura Ashley store in the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton, Florida….I was allowed to design the store windows (a great honor for me) this was one of my first jobs!! I loved it!! We….all of us from the the store were going to go to the family’s home in Palm Beach to visit Ms. Ashley….I was so excited I was beside myself…then we were told the tragic news that she had fallen down the flight of stairs….oh very very sad….I have photos of myself in her dresses…it was a company policy that we were to wear her dresses while we were working in the store….I wore one dress in particular till 1993. I still have her saphire blue twin bedding set. I have gone on eBay to purchase more of her bedding. The bedding is so very soft and comfy compared to today’s linens…So…I almost got to meet her in person!! I love Laura Ashley.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh no, you just missed her! And you were so lucky to get to do the windows, using so many beautiful things to do it! Thanks for the memories Katherine.

  28. Jan says:

    I, too, loved, loved, loved all things Laura Ashley. I made two of her jumper patterns into maternity outfits. Plus, found one of her dresses for my then two-year-old daughter’s birthday – on sale! – a beautiful sailor dress of french blue cordoroy that I still have and hope to get a granddaughter to wear some day, too. And, I named my second daughter Ashley Lauren! It was so great to read everyone’s comments about Laura Ashley – I feel so much the same way as they all do/did.

  29. Linda Lee Miller says:

    I, too, loved the unique style of Laura Ashley’s clothing. She brought back a “Romantic Era” in the Eighties. The quality of her clothing, bedding, etc. was
    unmatched. I also enjoyed her special holiday items. It was so enjoyable shopping at her stores, and I miss those times!

    Thanks for sharing her story, Susan.

  30. Penne says:

    Everyone has such wonderful Laura Ashley memories. I too have a straw sailor hat from about 25 years ago that I cannot part with. Laura Ashley is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. I was thrilled to see that they have brought back their English clothing to the US along with fabrics and wallpapers. Just go to Lauraashleyusa.com. They have even brought back the old Bloomsbury collection.

  31. Kass (Kathleen) Overkamp says:

    I still tease my daughter about how much I had wanted a little Laura Ashley
    when she was young, but have settled on a Laura Ashley granddaughter….
    at least when she’s at my house and we can play dress-up together.
    Thank you for the tribute to a wonder lady!

  32. Anne says:

    I was enthralled with Laura Ashley designs from the first time I saw them, and shopped there so much and often that they offered me a job (which I took, as I got first dibs on all the new dresses and other clothing) part time, and my wedding was of course in a Laura Ashley dress as well as my bridesmaids. My house was done up in custom Laura Ashley in every single room, and my kids each had their own choice of Laura Ashley designs for their rooms. I still love the designs, and I think I always will. My heart is just with another time, that of gentle breezes, sailor dresses, loose cotton and crisp linen. I even bought dresses for my daughter before I was even married and had kids! My kids even had Laura Ashley stuffed animals, and I still use my Laura Ashley dinnerwear and tea sets. I just can’t imagine a world without Laura Ashley floral designs, and it was truly a sad day when she died, and later when the company left the hands of the family and then left the U.S.

    • sbranch says:

      It was a sad day. I keep waiting for them to understand her sensibility and it’s importance and just bring it all back.

  33. Margaret Solan says:

    I still collect Laura Ashley “Alice” dishes which can often be found on eBay.
    It’s hard to find the dinner plates in good condition because they usually get the most use and abuse but I recently acquired four “like new”. The thrill of the hunt! My sister, Vickie, who is a gifted interior designer must think me awfully boring because I replaced my pink checked wallpaper which I had since the 80′s with a different pink check paper because I couldn’t part yet with my dainty pink floral dishes!

  34. Toni says:

    I, too, LOVED everything L.A. as my friend and I would refer to all the wonderful items in all the stores. I have quite a few summer and winter dresses which I could NEVER get rid of, and have, actaully, begun to wear them again. Todays fashions are dreadful and I’m so gald I have these to fall back on, to remain feminine and be in that special time again. I made my 25th wedding anniversary dress from a combination of dress patterns and looked like I was back in the lovely Victioran times. She will always be a part of my life.

  35. Dawn Osborn-Jacobs says:

    I loved this web page and the article about Laura Ashley. I remember shopping at the Laura Ashley store in New York City in 1983 and it was a wonderful experience. The fabrics are one of a kind, and I have tried to keep as many as possible, placing them into quilts I make. Thank-you for a creative website.

  36. jane jardine says:

    I too love Laura Ashley fabric. I live about 5 miles away from where she use to live (Carno, Powys, Mid Wales) and she also had her first factory there, which is now sadly waiting to be sold. There is however, still a factory in a small plae called Newtown, which is further down the road. This now belongs to Malaysians (I think) but the fabric is still quite beautiful. I am very fortunate as many of my friends work in this factory and every now and again it has some fab sales. The charity shops in my area often have vintage Ashley fabrics and today I bought some of the little rabbit children’s design to make something or other…I just can’t resist….From me, Jane, over here in Wales regards.

  37. Katherine M. in Austin says:

    Thank you, Susan, for this memory. I loved the Laura Ashley shop in Dallas, which I visited regularly. The memory is strong and sweet. I still have a shower cap in one of her tiny blue, violet and lavender prints. The elastic is long defunct, but I’ll never get rid of it!

  38. Helen H. says:

    Your history of Laura Ashley was a delight to read. Thanks so much. I still have the dress I wore 18 years ago for my daughter’s wedding reception. I frequented the Laura Ashley shop in Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA often back in the day. Sure wish the shop was open now as I shop for a dress to wear for my son’s wedding! Thanks for the memory.

  39. Melinda Marchand says:

    I, too, loved all things Laura Ashley. Somewhere I have a picture my husband took of me wearing my LA hat in Edgartown. It never really looked good on me, the style was too round for my face, but I loved it and it made me happy. And how I loved buying clothing for my daughter at her stores! We celebrated Alexandra’s fifth birthday in London, and she wore a new yellow smocked LA dress, and ate a Fortnum and Mason’s birthday cake on the hotel balcony, with Big Ben watching over her. Such wonderful memories! Thank you for inspiring them.

  40. Susan Kuiken says:

    I love all things British starting with my love of the Beatles and my penpal with the same name as me – Susan – who I started corresponding with when I was ten (50 years ago). We met when I traveled to London and her father – a Bobbie – got us a tour of behind the face of Big Ben! I live in Warwick, NY and loved telling the people in Warwick, England where I lived! They didn’t seem too impressed. When I watch the British shows on PBS, I longingly look at the beautiful villages and feel I belong there. I even downloaded a British phone ringtone for my iPhone. My penpal and I still correspond and she even sent me a cup and saucer for William and Catherine’s wedding as she had done for Charles and Diana’s wedding – which was on Susan’s birthday – July 29. Susan – I love your art work and have bought your baby books as shower gifts.

    • sbranch says:

      I have cathedral bells as my ring tone! I know just what you mean. How wonderful you’ve had your Penpal for so many years. When was the last time you saw her …might be time!

  41. Diana says:

    I am happy to say I was the proud owner of a Laura Ashley sofa and loveseat when I was single, living in an apartment in Philadelphia. It was beautiful. White with blue checks. It was my pride and joy. To my dismay, when I got married, I had to part with them…..too delicate for a growing family. I have pictures so I can remember that great apartment and the beautiful furniture from Laura Ashley:)

  42. Melissa says:

    I am now 49 and when I was about 14 my mum bought me a beautiful Laura Ashley summer dress. It was the palest of summer blue with tiny daisy flowers all over, it had a lace front and it tied up at the back. I loved Laura Ashely ever since. It would be so lovely to have clothes like that again, beautiful, pretty and very feminine.
    Melissa
    (Australia)

  43. did you see this news? I know it is only the L.Ashley Co. and not the family taking on this venture but neat nonetheless…
    foxnews.com/travel/2013/08/12/laura-ashley-opens-first-boutique-hotel-on-english-estate/

  44. Winnie Awarski says:

    I was introduced toeverything Laura Ashley by a dear friend who lives in England. On my first trip to England my husband and I took a train all around the country and into Scotland as well. And in very town that had a Laura Ashely store I made a point of visiting the shop. On another trip to England a friend and I each bought a set of Laura Ashley print China made by Johnson Brothers . My set is in blue and my friend’s is in a dusty pink I still own ,cherish and use this lovely china set. It’s wonderful that you have been so inspired by her.

    • sbranch says:

      With one little scarf, she made all of this happen — something about her patterns and colors touched so many of us!

  45. Oh, Susan! I’m so glad I found the link to your blog in my faves…I’d put it there a couple of years ago when a customer of mine told me about your lovely blog. Something made me think of you today as I’ve been in need of inspiration … You see, well over a year ago I had to pack up my art supplies to relocate with my husband to a whole new area and recently I brushed the dust off my brushes and began painting again. We had moved to Richmond, VA in 1980 as young marrieds and I dearly loved it there. Leaving has been very painful. But, oh, the memories I have of working downtown in the early ’80s and walking the brick paved streets in Shockoe Bottom past that Laura Ashley shop every day to my car. Then one day I just couldn’t stand it any longer. I just had to go inside. I still have the lovely pick and white fabrics I used in my little girl’s room. Packed away in a box now for … I don’t know …. I’ll think of something! Thank you for bringing those good memories back, and sharing your wonderful life with me today!

  46. Jen Ruddy says:

    I always wanted to be married in a Laura Ashley wedding dress. Well, never got married, so… Love all things Laura Ashley, especially her signature fragrance, No.1. Have a whole set of bathroom china…blue & white…even have her special Christmas ornaments. BUT I also love all things Susan Branch as well…have all your cookbooks, which I use all the time and am really looking forward to reading your new book. Am so glad you have Emma Bridgewater items…have a large collection of her mugs. Thank you, Susan, for sharing your wonderful artistry and life with all of us who love you!

  47. Kathleen says:

    Great story: A very funny lovely young woman, (this was in the 80s, so now she would be somewhere around 60ish) was a speaker/teacher, and spoke at many women’s conferences and groups throughout the continental USA. At our church, she told this hilarious story….she’d been invited to speak to a Jr.League in a large Texas city…so she went right out and bought the cutest LauraAshley dress, shoes to work with it, etc.. Feeling ready to meet this group in this most prestigious, gorgeous country club setting, she arrived and realized as she walked to the podium, her dress MATCHED the tablecloths….OMgosh! Oh yes, can you imagine…she of course being a funny funny woman, took control, but her relating the incident, had us all gasping for air, we were laughing so hard. A room full of custom made LA tablecloths…yes, Laura Ashley ruled during those years.
    My own sweet memory – one winter, I had a Blackwatch plaid dress and my 4 year old daughter had the matching jumper from Laura Ashley Mother&Child…we were darling together :) Her stores were beautiful. LauraAshley#2 worked with my chemistry, it was the best perfume ever for me, I grieved when they discontinued it. If anyone knows a close second, please share!

  48. Jeni Ogilvy says:

    I used to work at the Laura Ashley store on Newbury Street, after I graduated from college. I LOVED it! We were required to wear the clothes while we were working (of course) and the best thing was, we were allowed one free dress a month. It was really a wonderful benefit of working there. I miss the prints so much! Two years ago, I went to England for the first time, and made my husband take me to a Laura Ashley store in the Cotswolds. It was nice, but not the same at all!

  49. Lynndelee Sharpton says:

    I too loved Laura Ashley the first time I saw her stuff. My wonderful husband bought a beautiful outfit for my birthday one year. I wore the outfit until the blouse starting wearing out. I was never so sad when I heard that she had died, a light went out for me. There is no one to replace her for beautiful, romantic, comfortable clothes, fabric and home goods.
    I get nostalgic when I look at her decorating books. One of which I will never ever get rid of.. at the end is a complete set of instructions to make soft homefurnishings. I learned how to make balloon shades from that book and put them in the windows of my bedroom, back in the 80′s. Loved those shades!
    I also made quilts for my two young daughters, at about the same time, still have those too, the inspiration was a quilt I saw in her book, and a fabric with tiny pink rosebuds.

  50. Donna says:

    I was the quintessential Laura Ashley girl in the 80′s and early 90′s. I absolutely loved the shop and visited as often as possible. The staff knew me quite well. I remember buying my first LA dress (in that wonderful cotton/wool fabric) when I was pregnant with my first child. That was 30 years ago, and I still have the dress. After that, I was hooked. I bought many more dresses, blouses, trousers, sweaters and nightgowns. Several rooms in my house were decorated with Laura Ashley prints. I miss the store so much! There is no other store today that comes close. I recently started buying a few vintage items of clothing on eBay (as my originals no longer fit). One skirt that came over from England had a very faint trace of Laura Ashley No. 1 perfume. It smelled just like it came from the store! Brought back wonderful memories of bringing my purchases home in those iconic green plastic bags. Thank you, Susan, for the wonderful trip down memory lane. I was so happy to read the other postings as well.

    • sharon says:

      loving reading through these comments, and can relate to most of them..I too loved the stores, and remember the smell. Yes, the clothes did have a particular smell when new. I remember it and the scent was just like the shops, the smell of Laura Ashley #1. Beautiful smell, beautiful clothes, beautiful everything. I still have her nottingham lace panels in my bedroom.

  51. Lori Glenn says:

    I had that sundress and absolutely loved it!

    Back then (mid-80s), most of my clothes were Laura Ashley because I worked for the store at the Dallas Galleria. I got to meet Laura and Bernard Ashley before she passed, and distinctly remember the dress I wore.

    I always loved getting new shipments in – it was like Christmas. If we found clothing sewn wrong, we would joke about the “blind Welsh ladies” since that is where the clothes were made. We had a great group of ladies that worked in the shop – all with a passion for everything Laura Ashley; I have often wondered what happened to them.

    I’ve gotten rid of a lot of the clothes over the years, but won’t get rid of any more of them. I still have two hats – one beret in Delphinium (that was what the color was called back then) and a bowler similar to the one you have. I have an awesome wide wale corduroy coat that I plan to pull out and where sometime this winter.

    Thank you for bringing back so many delightful memories! Lori

    • sbranch says:

      You did??? How fun! Well, of course, there had to be more than one!

    • Donna says:

      Lori – I had a black wide wale corduroy coat (it was actually called a stadium jacket) with a floral lining. I sold it a long time ago and regretted it. I have been looking for one on ebay with no luck. Is that the corduroy coat you have? If so, if you are ever interested in selling it, I would be interested in buying. Please let me know. Thanks!

  52. kate davis says:

    WOW!! i had no idea Laura Ashley meant as much to anyone as it does to me! this is so fun, reading about so many others with so much passion for Laura Ashley. i worked at a jewelry store at Plaza Frontenac in St. Louis MO in 1998-2002. the jewelry store was right across the hall from The Laura Ashley Store. i remember walking into work one day and hearing that the store was closing. i bought several bolts of fabric for $1.00 a yard. then the day came, the doors were closed and the Laura Ashley sign was taken down. i went in the back room and cried. i grew up with Laura Ashley. i even made my wedding dress (it was my senior ballgown project at Washington University in St. Louis. i majored in fine arts with an emphasis in fashion design) out of one of the bolts of fabric that were $1.00 a yard!! it was a beautiful dress!!

    now i have a 7 week old daughter and i’m wanting to use the same fabric for her nursery. the problem is that, i do not have any fabric leftover and i don’t know how to find it. i’m sure someone out there has some of the same fabric. i just need the name or item number of the fabric and i think, i’ll be able to track it down. i have several pictures on my computer from my wedding day. is there anyway, i can post or email a photo to see if any of you can help me?

    Thank you

  53. Sandra Willis says:

    Being from England some 47 years ago I love Laura Ashley..English china, food…anything English….I owned an English tea room here in Florida for 10 yrs……Ross stores have Laura Ashley sheets, whenever I see I buy !…they are around $25 for a queen set……
    Susan ,I love your blog BUT when you do a tea you must use the European cucumbers not the thick skinned ones with seeds( I was a chef for 45 yrs) !! I noticed this when you had a tea for Kate and Williams baby….I often have 8 or so ladies to tea and ask them all to bring 2 bags of cat food( this goes to a local rescue ) Needless to say I LOVE CATS…..and your 2 are beautiful…
    Thank you…..

    • sbranch says:

      Brilliant Sandra! Cat food in exchange for tea, such a good deal! xoxo

      • Sandra Willis says:

        I LOVE cats……when I had my tea room I put on fundraiser teas for cat rescues..$25 donation for a full English afternoon tea..after I sold I would rent a clubhouse and do the same ..over the years I have raised over $24,000 for animals………if anyone wants advice on how to do I would gladly help them…..animals need help……!! thankyou….

  54. Sally Walter says:

    With the upmost respect to the nice peoples comments before me. I would like to say thank you for this special post in remembering Laura Ashley. I am glad to see I am not the only one with memories of shopping and decorating at Laura Ashley.
    It was a real joy. So feminine. So classy and so pretty.

  55. Judy says:

    I too have always loved Laura Ashley. I owned many beautiful dresses, blouses, hats, scarves, and skirts. I also bought LA outfits, including hats, for my daughter when she was small. We had teapots and dishes as well- in fact they are some of my favorite china. But my all time favorite item is a beautiful navy wool coat, double-breasted, with matching velvet collar and cuffs. I wore it with a matching velvet-banded wool hat. The lining is now purple and shredded and I don’t dare wear it anymore, so I hung it on a dress form in my sewing room for inspiration. Occasionally I run across people I knew back in the LA heyday and they never fail to mention my beautiful coat.

  56. Sharon Suzanne says:

    Wow! People who love Laura Ashley as much as I do! We were lucky enough to have two stores and an outlet in Northern Virginia. I had to have my weekly “fix” every Saturday. I think I have all her books, still love #1 perfume and saw the house in Williamsburg,Virginia she decorated just before she died, a lovely Victorian ; Miss Dora Armstead’s house. I believe a lot of her things are still available online! I let some things go, wish I’d kept them all.

  57. jan staricha says:

    wow, I did not know all of this about Laura Ashley! I kept thinking of Rachel ashwell. wow again.
    what a wonderful description. love it
    I am a kindred spirit. beautiful. lets all get together and have tea !
    jan

  58. Laura Ashley. How her pretty name evokes such lovely memories for me — not that I ever met her, but the decorating and clothing catalogs were, and still are, good friends. I miss the chintz, pastel stripes, and dainty rosebud prints that so many of my “fantasy” cottages wore on their walls, beds, tables, etc.

    On a trip to Cambridge, England in 1987, while eating at a neighborhood pub, I had the pleasant experience of meeting the young “proprietress” of the local Laura Ashley shop. She was as delightful as the store she managed. I still remember the day after, buying a patchwork quilt kit, which after all these years later, hasn’t been completed. It hardly matters, however, as it seems a “proper” metaphor for my own English romance, which I’m certain will never be finished.

    I’m ordering two copies of “A Fine Romance,” Susan, for my niece and I. We’re planning a trip to England with her two young daughters in 2014, and it sounds like we’ll find much delightful information in it.

    Thank you for your website/blog, which I discovered today while riding an Amtrac train from California’s Central Coast down to Orange County. It brought back more memories of train trips in England, and reminded me that maybe it’s time to seek out a cup of tea! Two little cranberry orange scones (albeit without clotted cream and jam) are calling to me from my lunch bag!

  59. Jena says:

    My first trip to London was when I was 14, way back in the mid 80′s. Laura Ashley was My Thing…I couldn’t wait to cross the pond and get into a “real LA store”. It was dreamy, heady, and absolutely, entirely, too much for a 14 year old with an empty suitcase and her whole life savings to bear. I spent each dollar I had in that store and begged my big brother to feed me for the 2 weeks that we tramped around town. He was a generous big brother and knew I had my purchasing weakness, so he indulged. I don’t know if it was because I had called my Mom to tell her of my transgressions or not, but I didn’t starve and got to bring back ALL of my LA treasures. What a joy.

    It feels like yesterday, but also feels like more than just decades ago. Oh, what an adventure for a 14 and 16 year old sibling adventure team.

    Jena
    Pa

  60. Jean Tilley says:

    Mermories how great they are. While storing my Spode Christmas dishes from
    December, 2013, I noticed my flatware had become tarnished. It is one of the coldest days in Birmingham, Alabama. Today is not one for shopping outside the home. The world wide web is almost like having a grandparent. The first site was susanbranch.com. My answer was found soon.

  61. Shirley Graham says:

    I have a pair of pillowcases I get out each spring to use on my couch (or anywhere for that matter) and I love them. They have tulips and daffodils on a medium blue background. They always lift my spirits! Loved her work and miss the store we had in Cincinnati several years ago.

  62. Antony says:

    Good Morning,

    I have recently been given some wonderful Laura Ashley fabric – printed in Holland in 1982. The pattern has trees and birds on it (have a photo but no name for the pattern) and is truly beautiful. I am wondering if anyone knows where I might be able to access “vintage” Laura Ashley fabric as the material I have is not quite enough for the curtaining project I would love to use it for.

    Hope you are all keeping warm and the worst of the cold is starting to lift.

    Regards

    Antony

  63. Trish says:

    Love reading the comments about Laura Ashley. I went to London many years ago and the Laura Ashley stores were top on my list. I didn’t have a lit of extra to spend..I spent most on my daughter…but I still love a necklace and earring set I bought there, as well as an adorable wallet. I really wanted the handbag, but could only afford the wallet. Great memories…treasured items. Susan, I am loving your new book. I only allow myself a few pages each night so I can make it last longer. I long to get home from work, snuggle up in my favorite spot…warm fire, steaming cup of rose tea….lovely!

  64. Ann says:

    I just discovered your blog, and love it!! This post on Laura Ashley stirred up old memories. I’m 59 and still wear three vintage Laura Ashley dresses! I purchased them online 4 years ago, as I couldn’t get over my love for her perfectly sewn dresses with high-quality gorgeous fabrics. I bought and wore them in the 80s too, and the shop in Costa Mesa, California was a regular stop. I wanted to live in that store, LOL! I even bought one when I first went to England in 1986 with my hubby. It was in the shop in Stratford-upon-Avon – dreamy. My dad is from Derby, England and still has his British citizenship even though he’s been in the US for 62 years. By the way, I bought your books in the 80s – thanks for years of inspiration and joy! Aloha with hugs, Ann

  65. Bea Tapparo says:

    I just read your story of Laura Ashley. I never knew she had passed away. Your wonderful article reminded me that I use to have a gorgeous off white dress by Laura Ashley. I felt so pretty and feminine in that dress but I surely didn’t appreciate it the way I would now. Unfortunately, when I “outgrew” it, I took it to the thrift shop. How could I! I knew then it was very special but not like I would know now. Hopefully someone else is loving and cherishing it!
    Love your website, Susan.

  66. Nancy says:

    Ah, Laura Ashley. There were two stores in my area during the 1980s and 1990s, and I was a frequent visitor to both. As a lover of all things British, they were like a little bit of England in the middle of metro Detroit. Unfortunately I never owned any LA clothing – I was always a bigger girl and LA didn’t make plus sizes – but I remember finding a decidedly LA-ish dress for a wedding in 1990. The colors and print were such that it would have passed muster with all but the most diehard Laura Ashley fans.

    I still have a sheet set that I can’t bear to part with, even though it is quite worn and fits a twin bed. I believe the pattern is Isabella. I also have a Filofax-like diary binder in the same pattern trimmed with leather that got a lot of complements in the years it was used. I recently rediscovered it in a box in my basement and it still had the last refill from 1995 in it. But my favorite LA item that I still own is an Alice luncheon set – a teapot, sugar and creamer, two teacups and saucers and two sandwich plates – that I bought with my Christmas money one year.

    I’ve always loved tea and one of my dreams is to own a tea shop. When I picture it in my mind’s eye, it is always decorated in Laura Ashley style.

  67. Mary Beth Farrelly says:

    I opened and managed the store in Short Hills NJ @ The Mall at Short Hills. I met and worked with David Ashley and met the Ashley’s at the annual conferences they hosted at different locations. The treated their employees very well. I loved all their products from the clothes, perfumes, to the home furnishings. I learned so much about these products and retain that knowledge to this day. As modern as society becomes there is something comforting and delightful about their line and the feelings they conjer up.

  68. sharon says:

    I bought three Laura Ashly pieces on a trip to England in 1975. A victorian style blouse in a beautiful (of course) dark green floral, a long brown corduroy skirt, and a blouse in a blue and white periwinkle print. I wore the green blouse on my first day of college in 1977 and still have my ID card, mostly because I loved the blouse and wore it out. I was still wearing the periwinkle blouse in 1983 when I went to live in England for 2 years, and it drew its last during that time. Wish I’d saved the fabric and enshrined it as a book cover or something. Needless to say, one of my first stops in England in 1983 was a Laura Ashley shop to replenish my wardrobe with beautiful clothes (a dark blue wool skirt, and a tweed coat, and, of course, a white frilly blouse). I’ve loved reading all memories here..

  69. Kathi Walsh says:

    Dear Susan,
    My dear friend Kathy S took me to the Laura Ashley store in San Francisco for the first time many years ago. We both have such fond memories of the trip. I purchased sapphire blue paint and wallpaper for my bedroom with Kathy’s help and recommendations. I LOVED that bedroom. We still talk about Laura Ashley and sadly miss her design sense.
    It also good to see so many LA believers!
    Thank you (and thank you, Kathy too!)

  70. Marilyn Taylor Young says:

    Laura Ashley, of course the most romantic fabric patterns of all time. How I wanted my complete bedroom made out of everything she came up with. It’s a no wonder I still have a good piece of her fabric in my stash! Thanks for this wonderful update on Laura Ashley.

  71. Susan Brooks says:

    I came across this blog tonight. My husband worked as a carpenter on the Laura Ashley store on Newbury Street in Boston when it first opened. He worked in a lot of places in Boston and always remembers that job. Many fond memories of Newbury Street, window shopping and people watching. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

  72. Lana Johnson says:

    Susan: What a delightful rememberance of Laura Ashley. I first discovered her also in Country Living and shopping in London and Frankfurt. I made curtains out of the same print you used in the wallpaper of you apt, in our row townhouse in Germany. When I came home to visit my sister in MA, we headed straight for Newberry St and Laura Ashley’s store. My have you stirred a lot of sweet memories today. I always take a stack of magazines w/me when I do chemo and first saw the advert for “A Fine Romance”; my dear friend and patient navigator and I love to do tea, suffice it to say, we’ve both bought the book. Thank you so very much for doing it, having the blog and all these other good “sites”. Was looking for a bread putting receipe and found it here. Again thank you, look forward to visiting at least weekly if not more often. Lana
    ps: The LAMB cake tin is just like my mom had when I was growing up and we had a Lamb cake every Easter. You’re the “BOMB”!!

  73. Caitlin says:

    I LOVE Laura Ashley! I remember the store at the mall when I was little (29 now), and when we moved when I was in third grade my mother did my room in the most gorgeous LA wallpaper. Mom STILL has the pillowcases and sheets- the quality is amazing, you seriously can’t even buy things that wear like that today.

  74. I worked in a Laura Ashley store in Williamsburg, Virginia. I loved every moment of it. My home is full of her china, clothes and furniture. Laura Ashley came to Williamsburg and visited our store. It was before I was working there sad to say. It was a magical time. I can still fit in my dresses, but no longer wear them. I do however have a coat and jacket that I wear often. Mary

  75. kathleen says:

    Hanging in the back of my closet – mother and daughter Black-watch plaid dresses that we wore in 1990 when my daughter was 4. Hoping for a future grandaughter to wear that little jumper someday. Our nearest LauraA. store was in Dallas, Tx., Northpark Mall. LOVED it. Sweet memories of all the clothes and bedding. BEST of all and now is gone, was her Laura Ashley #2 perfume. I’ve been told there is a store in NYC, Penhaligan’s? that can make a version of that for me – this from a well traveled friend. Wonder if anyone else loved #2? I agree w Mary(above), it was a magical time, pretty clothes were “in”.

  76. Another Susan says:

    Oh, more lovely, nostalgic memories! Back in the mid-eighties, there was a Laura Ashley factory which made her iconic dresses just a couple of counties away from my Kentucky home – and even closer, just up the mountain from the Bluegrass, was a factory outlet store which sold “seconds” whose flaws were so slight that you had to conduct a major search to find even a trace of them. Prices of the so-called “seconds” were on the slight side, too, so I and my fellow English country dancers made frequent pilgrimages from Berea, an ECD Mecca, up the mountain to the little treasure-filled log cabin store.

    I still have two or three of the beautiful long-sleeved richly colored corduroy floral printed dresses – slightly dropped full skirts which reached to the mid-calf, cloth covered little round buttons up the front of the fitted bodices, collarless – so you could add a vintage lace collar if you were so inclined – and the prices were under $30. They were just right for cold-weather dancing, and had handy, deep pockets. Thankfully, we didn’t need the other kind of “deep pockets” to purchase them back then.

    Later, a Laura Ashley shop opened up in my Central Kentucky city, and it, too, became a favorite. It was where I bought (and still have) a beautiful deep green velvet long dress, just right for New Year’s Eve parties. I’d wear it still, if I could drop back a couple of sizes!

    I bought yet another Laura Ashley dress at the shop in London in 1985 – a deep raspberry red cotton with a tiny white figure. It was a summer dress, with a fullish skirt, short slightly puffed sleeves, a sash of the same fabric, and a V neck. It, too, still hangs in my closet.

    Then there was the beautiful, cadet blue with pinkish roses cotton summer dress which I wore to a high school reunion – almost all of my female classmates were in Laura Ashley floral prints that summer. It also got worn at an almost-formal ball around the same time: full puffed sleeves, scoop neck, calf-length full skirt, fitted bodice, zipper up the back: add sheer white stockings, pearls, black dancing shoes, and English country dance in a beautiful pavilion – oh, my, what memories it evokes.

    A couple of months ago, I found two beautiful corduroy LA dresses in a local thrift shop – I expect they were first sold at the mountain outlet shop, but I grabbed them with glee, as they were in perfect condition and close to my size. Prices were very right, too! I freshened them up and they looked like new. A good dancing friend got one for Christmas, and I am keeping the other one, in hopes of fitting into it eventually.

    Sadly, the factory, outlet shop and city store are all gone now…but if my plans for a walking regimen result in a return of my 1980s figure, my much-loved old dresses are going to resurface as active parts of my wardrobe once more.

    Thanks for the memories…surely wish that little log outlet shop on the mountain were still around!

  77. Elizabeth M says:

    Oh, yes. Laura Ashley! I was always a bit too large for her dresses, but I had those lacey crocheted scarves and I did have a tiered skirt, navy blue with tiny pink rosebuds, that I wore until it fell apart! I have a picture of myself, sitting on the fountain at Castle Howard in Yorkshire, pretending I’m Julia Flyte from Brideshead Revisited, and wearing that glorious skirt. I really should have saved a piece of it and made something else out of it. I miss those stores. There was one in Santa Barbara CA where I grew up and I was in it almost every week just absorbing the beautiful fabrics and dreaming of redecorating my entire house in Ashley wallpapers and lace!

  78. cynthia izoldi says:

    Hello,
    Can you help me find the name of a Tableware pattern? It is white bone china, very white and was sold during the late 80s and early 90s. I had up to yesterday the sugar bowl but it slipped out of my hand and broke.
    The bowl’s top/cover has a rose bud on a stem and 2 leaves and the bottom has a design not a name of the manufacture. Looks Asian almost like a stick figure of a girl with a dress. I seem to recall that the collection was made in Germany and was very pricy. Even after the LA employee discount it was still quite expensive. Please help? THANK YOU!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry Cynthia, there are so many patterns out there and this one doesn’t immediately come to mind. The best way to search is on the internet. Put in your description and see what comes up. If you are tenacious, you’ll find it.

  79. Marion Bennett says:

    Just found your so very Laura page. . . such a lovely trip down memory lane. My mother-in-law sent me (from London) my first Laura Ashley dress in the ’70s. . . ’twas love at first sight! Some years later (’88) my husband was visiting the US (we’re Australians) and lovingly tracked down a Laura Ashley store, bringing me home not one, but two gorgeous Laura numbers. . . an absolutely wonderful surprise. It wasn’t easy! His American host had insisted on accompanying him initially and took him to all the most garish dress shops. My darling finally managed to tactfully shake his host off and when he finally arrived back with his exciting Laura numbers, his host (and wife) were quite bemused! What a strange wife their guest must have.
    In 2000 we were able to make our only visit to the UK and I was salivating (so to speak) at the thought of finding Laura Ashley’s store in . . . was it Regent Street???
    So sad, no different to any other store – same, same, same. What a shame.

    I still have one of the dresses my husband bought – no longer fitting me of course, so am just contemplating what I can do with it – hopefully a very Laura idea will surface soon. Love this page!

  80. Fan in California says:

    Boy, this prompted a walk down Memory. Lane! There are still curtains and sheets of Laura Ashley fabric throughout our house. Styles — and I — have changed so I gave away all but one of my LA blouses a few years ago. However I still have a couple skirts I made from LA fabric as well as all the LA patterns, two sets of tea cups, several pitchers (jugs), table clothes, and design books I bought years ago. I bought my LA wedding dress in the Netherlands but sewed the bridesmaids dresses myself – from a LA pattern and using the sapphire blue Campion fabric for the dresses with the reverse for the sashes.

    The stores overseas are still magical to me although the popular color palettes are not the same as I like — and they don’t smell like LA perfume no.1 anymore!!

    Thanks to everyone who shared their wonderful memories — especially those who shopped at the South Coast Plaza store!!

    • sbranch says:

      I still love the stores too, nostalgia even tho it’s not the same, the little cotton blouses with the soft patterns are gone, but the name still carries the cache.

  81. I worked in a Laura Ashley store in New York. I love love loved her fabrics and made a quilt for one of mybabies using her pink squares kit. I loved working there. Just to be around the textiles!

  82. Oh yes, a Laura Ashley fan too. She made beautiful, beautiful things that made one feel they were in another world, a perfect world of sunshine and flowers. Such a sad ending to the story of her life.

  83. Lisa says:

    Nearly 21 years ago, I was married to my wonderful husband wearing a Laura Ashley wedding gown. I still marvel at the workmanship in the white on white all cotton gown. I left for our honeymoon in a Laura Ashley ensemble. Thanks for the tribute. I do love her work.

  84. Kim says:

    My bedroom still sports Laura Ashley wallpaper, curtains and bedding. They are in excellent condition and still make me happy to look at. I bought a dress in London and then another here in California and those are packed away. I still have several catalogs that I love and wish this style would come back again. It is so fresh and happy. She will always be the epitome of home design in my mind. I agree about the stores – I just loved walking into them – first the home decorating section and then the clothing area. Just loved running my fingers over the crisp fabrics and drinking in the beautiful colors. Thank you for this lovely tribute.

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