Last week I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the Laura Ashley: The Romantic Heroine exhibition at Bath Fashion Museum, which opened with a wonderfully witty and informative speech by Felicity Green OBE, former fashion editor at the Daily Mirror, who, during the 1970s, astutely described the brand’s look as being one of ‘soft-core femininity’ and ‘Victorian type demureness’.
In her excellent speech (which I rightly heard one attendee describe as the best opening speech he’d ever heard) Felicity observed that Laura Ashley was a woman designing for women; while the male-dominated world of high fashion was making hemlines shorter and silhouettes sleeker, Laura Ashley tapped into a desire for something simpler, tinged with nostalgia and romance. In an era when androgyny and sexiness were high on the fashion agenda, Laura Ashley made it OK for women to be unashamedly feminine.
It was great to overhear a few Laura Ashley stories from the other launch-goers – many of whom recognised a dress from their own 1970s wardrobe in the museum’s collection. Indeed, judging by the multitude of photographs and anecdotes shared on the brand’s Facebook page, Laura Ashley holds a special place in the hearts of all who wore her designs.