The Iconic and Inspirational Dresses of Laura Ashley
Often, what’s so desirable about vintage clothing is the feeling of nostalgia the clothing inspires. We’re reminded of simpler days and an old-world aesthetic. There’s an ever-present yearning for an era we might never know or might never see again.
On a personal level, I find this even more true with vintage dresses from the designer, Laura Ashley.
Looking back, I have vivid memories of my own mother, reading her book or cooking dinner while wearing her pink and white prairie dress while gracefully moving around the kitchen in the 1970s. The fun, yet simple cotton prints were stylish, romantic, and uncomplicated. Like other vintage pieces, they’re equally timeless and their beauty has longevity through the decades. I find myself enamored with the pieces still today.
Laura and her daughter Emma wearing the famous ruffle prairie dresses
And that isn’t true solely of me- Laura Ashley designs are one of the most sought after pieces in my collection. It isn’t hard to understand why that is when you have a moment to take in and appreciate the designs.
The British fashion designer started her namesake company in 1953, launching the Laura Ashley brand with her husband. What started as simple, embroidered headscarves and tea towels transformed into an iconic name in fashion spanning across decades. In particular, her prairie dresses and printed frocks found tremendous acceptance among women in the 70s. Eventually, they expanded the brand to include household products as well, including bed linens and furnishings.
Fans of the clothing line, like myself, carry an appreciation for it’s Victorian and Edwardian silhouettes and shapes, with loose and delicate feminine fits, as well as the floral prints, neutral, romantic color palettes, and long hemlines. The lacey frills were equally adored.
The dresses are dreamy and relaxed, with this perfect combination of seeming sweet and charming, yet are just a touch ethereal at the same time. Modest necklines and fitted waists denote femininity and coyness. When time feels like it’s passing by too fast and you’re missing moments, dresses like these can almost pause time and transport yourself back to calmer, slower days.
Bridesmaid dresses 1984
Catalogue Laura Ashley 1984
I don’t just admire what she created - I admire the creator herself. This was a woman who took an idea and a passion, and turned it into a thriving business. She worked hard for her family and for herself and worked with styles and designs she loved. She found a way to make other women love and appreciate those styles as well, and the beauty of her work is even appreciated and recognized to this day. I love that they’re unique and delicate, yet remind me of the dedication and hard work of women like Laura Ashley, as well as my own mother.
As I continue to search for pieces to curate for my collection, it’s hard not to feel incredibly inspired by the women who both created and wore the iconic pieces.