Thursday, 15 August 2013

Laura Ashley

Yesterday, I had a lovely daytrip to Bath with my daughter with the main feature of our packed day being a visit to Bath Fashion Museum to see the Laura Ashley Exhibition.  Featuring almost entirely dresses from mid 1970s I was in dress heaven.
Furthermore, photography was allowed and a notice welcoming photographers to share with social media.  My daughter and I snapped away.
I have a white high collar Laura Ashley dress from the mid 1970s similar to the one below, a thrifty find a few years back from the car boot sale. It is a hard item to wear, being so white, but it makes me happy just seeing it hand and every now and then I try it on and put it back.
You will notice how blue is a dominant colour,
This one was stunning
A close up on the sleeves, beautiful fall of fabric over the cuff.
I thought this one looked dramatic with its deep dark print.
There are many historical references, this dress with its elaborate leg o' mutton style sleeves has a pioneer, prairie aesthetic.

Great shoulder detail
I liked the use of lace and the deep scoop on the neckline
And the regency buzz on this one took me straight to Jane Austen's novels
Colour: short tunic shift dresses in needlecord dating from the mid 1960s.  I had no idea Laura Ashley was commercially designing dresses so early on.
Contrasting colours

Bright colours, strawberry
Orange and a little flamenco styling influenced by the rise of Spain as a favourite holiday destination
 Acid green
Stunning print and colour
Historical references galore 

Startlingly low cleavage in with all those high collar buttoned up styles.
Home made using Laura Ashley dress patterns for Mccalls.  I remember my mum making this one for my sister in the days when such dresses were worn as 'party' dresses to birthdays.  She made the bonnet too.
Handsewn hexagons, sewn together mid 1970s by 'Beverly Peach during her evenings working as a nanny in Spain'.
Our favourite and one I would happily wear today ( I would happily wear almost all of them)
Each dress (with the exception of the shift dresses) was made of acres of cotton fabric, maybe 6 yards or more in many of them.  Voluminous skirts and complex sleeves- I cannot imagine such dresses being mass market high street store styles today.  I have been a long time fan.  My mum was partial to the prints and home wares and the romantic historical styles have always been a favourite.  Taking me back to The Getting of Wisdom, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Room with a View- these are all key films in my personal cannon.  The exhibition continues until 26th August and a ticket includes entry into the Fashion Museum which is full of treats and with lots to try on- corsets, hats, bonnets, dresses. We had a lot of fun.  I am just about to enter into a few weeks of day trips, visits and generally enjoying the summer holiday period so emails and response may be a little slower than usual as I spend a little more time with my nearest and dearest xxx
sib blog


  1. I looooooove the regency gown! I have a Simplicity costume pattern that I would love to make one day but just not sure if I would have the balls to wear it out ...

  2. They look so dated now. They were really cheap in the seventies. I have photographs of friends at my wedding in 1974 wearing various versions always with big floppy hats! Although my wedding dress was not from Laura Ashley the style was very similar to one of the white ones. Those were the days!

  3. Fabulous dresses! I was a big Laura Ashley fan as a girl, but my wardrobe has since evolved into a practical uniform of always jeans and t-shirts. Perhaps when I am an old lady I shall dress in the gowns I dream of!

  4. Thanks for the tour! We never did LA when I was little, but I think I had one of her dresses when I was in 6th form, although saying that, it was a jersey empire line one in a solid dresden blue colour, so not quite as fancy as the above!

  5. Takes me back to my 70s childhood when this style of dress was for 'Sunday best'.

  6. What a glorious display!
    The dresses on the west side of the Atlantic were much more floral, much more Lady Di (maybe because they came her later?).
    How much fun to share the day with you & your daughter.

  7. Thank you for all the photos, the dresses are wonderful. I wish I could have been there.

  8. Your pictures are amazing! I am suddenly transported to my 17th year and going to see Earth Wind & Fire (band, singers) where my Mom forced me to wear my 'hideous' Laura Ashley dress. Thiis was the early 80's...I didn't like dress then, I wouldn't wear it now but they are awesome!!! The tiny waists?! Wow!

  9. Thank you for sharing the exhibit with us. I wish I could have seen it in person.

  10. I heard about this exhibition. Unfortunately, my plans do not coincide with a trip to england this year. Thank you for taking the time to share your photos.

  11. The look fab! And all the detail - the piping, the pleating etc. You wouldn't get that at any kind of high street price nowadays.

  12. Beautiful dresses, thanks for sharing :) x

  13. When I saw the photos I thought they looked so much older than the 70s, but when you mentioned party dresses I remembered having several for parties, I had forgotten until then. Thanks for the memory trip.

  14. Thanks for sharing these - fab! I was more active on the clothes buying front in the late 70s and early 80s and have very fond memories of 'Richard Shops' whose adverts always talked (sang, actually!) about how they were full of "pretty things". In fact, I can remember a whole line because it was on TV so often: "hey there pretty things, make the world a prettier place. Come prettier, come buy your clothes at Richard Shops" - OMG, scary... Am sure they were heavily influenced by this period of Laura Ashley dress style. I still have an 80s Laura Ashley decorating book with some great practical craft tutorials in the back too - fabulous :o)

  15. Thanks for sharing. I'd have loved to go to this exhibition but won't get there before it ends now. So this was the next best thing. I remember years ago buying a 1970's navy needlcord LA dress at a jumble sale. Not sure what became of it. I think it was probably cut up and repurposed. This does remind me I have a 1980's dress kept for the same repurposing reason. Gorgeous colours just a little bit more toned down style wise than the one in the pictures.

  16. I had quite a few Laura Ashley dresses and skirts back in the '70's ~ always felt so flouncy in them!
    Thanks for the tour ~ lovely dresses!

  17. Your post is such a delight, all those fabulous LA dresses and also took me back to one of my favourite places the Bath Fashion Museum. My daughter and I went regularly when we still lived in Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, it was lovely to see the exhibition and the museum again :)

  18. Thanks for a lovely wrap-up post! Some of the dresses remind me of ones my mum made for us when we were little, party dresses, first communion etc. imagine using 6 yards of fabric for a dress though!!

  19. Thank you for the lovely post. Those are the most beautiful dresses. Can you imagine making one today with the cost of fabric? The style and fabrics are just beautiful. Lucky that you got to see them.

  20. I was sitting reading this and so many ahhhs and ooooohs came from my mouth!!
    Beautiful and brings back memories for me too!

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  23. I just stumbled upon this post. Thanks so much for sharing! Love viewing these. :)


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