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Synonymous with British country living and romantic lifestyle, Laura Ashley wasn't just a brand name, but was the real name of the Welsh fashion designer and businesswoman who started her empire manufacturing furnishing materials in the 1950's.
The company expanded into clothing design and manufacture in the 1960's and Laura Ashley's first shop was opened in Montgomeryshire in 1961. Laura Ashley worked here herself as a seamstress.
Laura and Bernard Ashley had four children who were all involved with the business. David, the eldest son, designed the shops; one of the daughters, Jane, was the company photographer; another daughter, Emma, and their second son, Nick, were part of the company's fashion design team. Bernard was the company chairman and Laura kept a close eye on fabrics.
The success of the business meant that the Ashley's could afford a yacht, a private plane, the French Château de Remaisnil in Picardy, Rhydoldog House, a mansion near Rhaeadr,Powys, Wales, a town-house in Brussels, and the Villa Contenta in Lyford Cay, New Providence, Bahamas.
Laura sadly died in 1985, just after her 60th birthday, when she fell down the stairs at her daughters home. Two months after her death, Laura Ashley Holdings went public in a flotation that was 34 times oversubscribed. Laura's husband, "Sir Bernard" died of cancer on 14th February 2009.
By the time of Laura Ashley's death in 1985, the company had over 220 stores worldwide, employed over 4,000 people and turned over $130million annually. On 17th March 2020, the company filed for administration and all its own stores were officially closed from January 2021.
In March 2021, thanks to new owners, Laura Ashley resurfaced as a homewares brand, available no longer in stand alone stores, but in handpicked stores and online platforms, including Seymour's Home. All Laura's signature designs, colours and textures have been re-introduced, and the brand lives on, stronger than ever....