Laure Ashley – the designer, who created a legendary trademark

“Laura Ashley” was born on the kitchen table at Laura Ashley's home in Pimlico, Central London. There were created her first shawls – from the silk that the marital paravent was covered with. On this table, she plans and embroiders pads, napkins and tea towels with the nowadays worldwide famous rustic flower motives, that her husband Bernard Ashley printed using the machine that he created. Around this table Laura brought up two from her four children. She made her first investment from 10 pounds for wooden frames, colours and linen canvas through which she achieved her dream to help the woman and the housewife feel herself comfortably at her home.

From the very beginning Laura is an instinctive stylist, producing an exceptional design that can be compared only with her manner of expression. Some of these early models still exist and it is incredible how typically „Laura Ashley” they look like.

The success of Laura's works comes quickly...The orders come one after another – everybody wants to represent and sell Laura Ashley – from the smallest London shops up to ones of the level of “John Lewis”. Laura’s husband – engineer Bernard Ashley - gave up his own highly paid job and career of stockbroker, taking up the management of the new family business.

The new business gets into and out of critical situations like the devastating flood in 1958 from the Darent River, affluent of the Thames. However, the demand broadens and in order to response to the market, Laura established whole plants in her beloved Wales.

The first shop with the name Laura Ashley was opened in the central part of London - Pelham Street, South Kensington- in 1968. The first shop in Paris opened in 1974. Then came those in Geneva and Brussels, then Australia, Canada, Japan.... In 1981, more than 5 000 shops all over the world sell the mark. The company settled its main office in a building of former railway station in today’s region Fulham. The romantic building, that has kept the spirit of Laura Ashley, contrasts and protrudes among the modern buildings along Thames.

In parallel to the development of the company, Laura brought up her two younger children, occupied the position of secretary of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes for 7 years and won the Queen's Award for Export in 1977.

Laura Ashley died in a tragic incident in her daughter’s house on her 60th birthday. Sir Bernard remained alone with a company, valued on the stock market for 200 million pounds. Each attempt to change Laura Ashley's style and “modernize” it leads to demand recession, illustrating Laura's short comment exactly before her death:”One design doesn't sell well, if it doesn't bring nostalgia for the past. ” And the designer Laura Ashley is a world-wide famous trade mark with a remarkable development: from the kitchen table to global empire for interior design. This is design that can't be forgotten, that talks for itself...!

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