The Time for Vintage Laura Ashley, is Now
Laura Ashley seems everywhere recently. True, her vintage designs have always been available in vintage shops like the Vault, but have you seen the high-profile Laura Ashley collaborations with brands like Urban Outfitters, Rag & Bone, and Batsheva lately?
We love it that the most coveted prairie dresses and frilly blouses in the archive are being re-imagined, but also we can’t reiterate enough that when you buy vintage, you aren't just shopping more sustainably - you're getting the real original thing rather than the copy.
So we’ve put this little profile of Laura Ashley’s history together & compiled our favorite Laura Ashley pieces from our website, to help you shop the original iconic designs, whether you’re sad about the sold-out collabs you missed or are one of our customers who subscribe to a secondhand-only lifestyle (🙌🏻😘🙌🏻)
This 80’s floral tea dress has the quintessential Laura Ashley details we love. Available here!
Even at its inception, Laura Ashley was a brand with deep ties to the past. Laura Ashley, born Laura Mountney, was moved by a visit to a traditional handicrafts exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum in London in 1952. She began producing textiles the following year, and by 1961 the brand had opened its first store. This sense of nostalgia that inspired the brand is coupled with anti-minimalism to create the Laura Ashley look - feminine and floral, and lovely down to the details.
This bright pink Laura Ashley dress has an adorable shawl collar. Available here!
The first garment produced by Laura Ashley was actually a gardening smock, which young women repurposed for fashion wear. Shortly after, the brand opened their first retail shop in Machynlleth, Wales. In early days, the family lived above the shop and recruited friends and neighbors to work as pattern cutters and designers. This mix of domesticity and industry is undeniably part of the mythos and allure of the Ashley brand.
A purple and blue Laura Ashley frock with some serious charm. Available here!
The Laura Ashley brand proved to be an appealing one! In the 1970’s and 80’s, people flocked to the brand’s pastoral-meets-Victorian aesthetic. And this legacy proved to be equally as appealing to city-dwellers as country folk (think the #cottagecore wave of the 2020’s.) Unexpectedly, Laura Ashley designs even found their way to punk bands like The Clash and The Slits by way of Jane Ashley, Laura's daughter who lived in London and was friends with the bands' members. The brand opened a London shop in 1968, with more shops to follow in London and beyond. By the mid-80s, there were over 220 Laura Ashley storefront locations worldwide.
A photo from Laura Ashley's punk moment!
Check out this 1988 Laura Ashley ad, featuring a dotted purple dress with a sailor collar.
Look familiar? It’s the same sailor collar dress in a turquoise color! Available here.
Often in fashion, we talk about the revitalization of trends. But drawing inspiration from the past doesn’t necessitate adhering to an endlessly accelerating trend cycle. Instead, Laura Ashley and Batsheva Hay both embody a way of embracing the past with a real sense of care. Whether it’s Ashley first printing her Victorian-inspired textiles at her home in London, or Hay beginning her own namesake brand after searching thrift stores in New York for vintage Laura Ashley, these women are equally as interested in preserving the styles of the past as they are in emulating them.
A colorful Laura Ashley piece with a ruffled neckline and full skirt. Available here!
In an interview on Harper’s Bazaar about her second Batsheva X Laura Ashley collection, Batsheva Hay explained that one thing she loved about working on the collaboration was "being able to pull from the unseen depths of this heritage brand - things that will never be seen unless someone like me digs.” And we couldn’t agree more because that's exactly what we do at The Vault; dig up the wonderful and unseen vintage pieces that never go out of style so we can all love them for years to come.
A lovely sleeveless Laura Ashley dress in a dreamy blue floral. Available here!