Laura Ashley: The Romantic Heroine

LAURA ASHLEY: The Romantic Heroine
13 July - 26 August 2013

The Ball Room


Laura Ashley: The 1960s and 70s remembered - please send us your photos, we would love to share them here.


To celebrate the 60th anniversary in 2013 of the founding of the Laura Ashley label, the Fashion Museum celebrates the vision of the romantic heroine that Laura Ashley gave to fashion in the 1960s and 1970s. A look that fashion editor Felicity Green, referred to in the Daily Mirror on January 1st 1970 as ‘soft-core femininity’ and ‘Victorian type demureness’. A look that prompted a generation of young women to dress up as Thomas Hardy’s milkmaid from Tess of the d’Urbevilles, or Cathy from Wuthering Heights searching in vain across the northern moors for Heathcliff.


The exhibition focuses on the dresses that caught the imagination and chimed with the zeitgeist. By the tail end of the Swinging Sixties the bright and shiny bubble of optimism had burst and so designers found inspiration, and comfort, in nostalgia for times gone by. There was an appetite for escapism and a move back to nature.  TV and film hits included Upstairs Downstairs, The Good Life and Far From the Madding Crowd while fashion fans shopped at Antiquarius on the Kings Road and collected Art Nouveau and Aubrey Beardsley prints.


Laura Ashley gave the world the chaste cotton print maxi-dress in earth-hewn natural colours and a notion of life in a golden age; a pastoral idyll far away from the mad city life.


An illustrated book to accompany the exhibition is avaialble from the Fashion Museum shop, price £5.99


Laura Ashley printed dresses and smocks, in the summer rain,
on Cheyne Walk / Chelsea Embankment, 1970s.
Copyright: Laura Ashley Ltd


Laura and Bernard Ashley, and their four children, late 1950s.
Copyright: Laura Ashley Ltd




Laura Ashley book to accompany the exhibition now available from the Fashion Museum shop. Price £5.99