As the Laura Ashley label, famed for floaty florals, turns 60 this year The Bowes Museum prepares to celebrate with a nostalgic exhibition.
Laura Ashley has long been synonymous with romantic British femininity – for 60 years, in fact. And to celebrate, next month, The Bowes Museum in north east England launches Laura Ashley: The Romantic Heroine, an exhibition of 70 dresses that define the designer’s unique vision.
The dresses are on loan from the Laura Ashley archive in Wales, the Fashion Museum in Bath (which has curated the show) and private collections. Caroline Peacock, chairman of The Friends of The Bowes Museum, has donated her personal collection of Laura Ashley dresses which she “lived in during the ’70s”.
Ashley’s dresses were in direct contrast to the risque mini skirts that became fashionable in the 1960s. Instead, the designer sought inspiration from Victorian shapes and styles that were chaste, ankle-length and decorated in muted, earthy patterns reflecting more pastoral idylls. ‘The Laura Ashley dress’ is an iconic object that is universally recognised.
The Bowes Museum is also launching another sartorial show on the same day, Henry Poole & Co. Founder of Savile Row, which details the craft of bespoke tailoring and how this London street became synonymous with suit making. Henry Poole & Co. had famous clientele including Emperor Napoleon III and Winston Churchill, and has held the Royal Warrant for state livery since Queen Victoria. The company is also famous for creating the short dinner jacket, known as the tuxedo.
Laura Ashley: The Romantic Heroine, 21 September 2013 until 5 January 2014.
Henry Poole & Co. Founder of Savile Row, 21 September until 11 May 2014.
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