LAURA ASHLEY Biography - Socialites, celebrities and People in the fashion industry


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Name: Laura Ashley                                                                     
Born: 7 September 1925                                                                 
Died: 17 September 1985                                                               
Laura Ashley CBE, (7 September 1925 - 17 September 1985) was a Welsh designer.         
She became a household name on the strength of her work as a designer and             
manufacturer of a range of colourful fabrics for clothes and home furnishings.         
Born Laura Mountney in Station Terrace in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, Laura was           
raised in a civil service family as a strict Baptist. The chapel she attended in       
Dowlais (Hebron) was Welsh language and although she could not understand the         
language, she loved it, especially the singing. Educated at Marshall’s School in     
Merthyr Tydfil until 1932, she was then sent to the Elmwood School, Croydon. She       
was evacuated back to Wales, and after attending the Aberdare Secretarial School,     
she left school at 16. In World War II, she served in the Women's Royal Naval         
Service, and then from 1945 to 1952 as a secretary for the National Federation         
of Womens Institutes in London. She met engineer Bernard Albert Ashley, latterly       
Sir Bernard, at a youth club in Wallington, whom she married in 1949                   
While working as a secretary and raising her first two children, part time she         
designed napkins, table mats and tea-towels which Sir Bernard printed on a             
machine he had designed in an attic flat in Pimlico, London                           
The couple had invested £10 in wood for the screen frame, dyes and a few yards       
of linen. Laura's inspiration to start producing printed fabric came from a           
Women's Institute display of traditional handicrafts at the Victoria & Albert         
Museum. When Laura looked for small patches carrying Victorian designs to help         
her make patchworks, she found no such thing existed. Here was an opportunity,         
and she started to print Victorian style headscarves in 1953.