FACS Careers Assignment

Laura Ashley

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Personal Backround

Laura Ashley was born September 7, 1925 in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales & died September 17, 1985, in Coventry, England. She was initially educated in Wales at Marshall’s School but was soon sent to Elmwood School, Croydon.

At the age of 13, she was sent back to Wales and was enrolled into the Aberdare Secretarial School. But she soon left the school and joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service in 1942. While working in London, Ashley met an engineer, Bernard Ashley, at a youth club in Wellington and got married to him in 1949. Bernard helped in realizing her dream of building up a business of her own.

The couple had four children together and all their children too were involved in the family business: David (designed the shops), Jane (company’s official photographer), Emma (company fashion designer) and Nick (also, company fashion designer).

In 1985, Ashley was visiting her children for the celebration of her 60th birthday and she fell down from her daughter’s home in Cotswolds and taken to hospital immediately but died after barely surviving for 9 days in coma.

Her husband died of cancer in 2009.

FACS career

Worked as secretary, National Federation of Women's Institutes, London.

Laura created the designs, noted for their floral, frilly, and lace-covered appearances, suggestive of traditional English country manners and ways. From wholesaling, the couple moved into retailing in 1967, with the opening of their first shop in Kensington,London. This enterprise was followed by the establishment of numerous outlets overseas, including shops in Canada and Australia and later in continental Europe and the United States. As her operation expanded, she became a tax exile, living in Brussels and France.

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Ashley's self-taught skill produced ranges of womenswear, childrenswear, bridalwear, accessories, and furnishings. She established home interiors consisting of coordinated ranges of bed linens, wall tiles, curtains, cushions, and upholstery. Her brilliant concept of fabrics, her discerning research of past eras for new inspiration, and her study and reinterpretation of antique textiles led to the considerable success and endurance of the Laura Ashley label.

Secrets to Success

Her approach to design was inspired by her environment, the surrounding Welsh countryside, and her yearning to return to all things natural. Integrating ideas adopted from the designs and qualities of past eras, she combined elements to create a look of nostalgic simplicity and naive innocence.