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Encyclopedia > Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley CBE, (7 September 192517 September 1985) was a Welsh designer. Commanders Badge of the Order of the British Empire The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V. The Order includes five classes in civil and military divisions, in order of seniority: Knight or Dame Grand Cross... September 7 is the 250th day of the year (251st in leap years). ... 1925 (MCMXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar). ... September 17 is the 260th day of the year (261st in leap years). ... 1985 (MCMLXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the country. ...


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.

Contents

Career

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 [1] Merthyr Tydfil (Welsh: ) is a town and county borough in Wales, with a population of about 55,000. ... The Byzantine civil service in action. ... Baptist is a term describing a tradition within Christianity and may also refer to individuals belonging to a Baptist church or a Baptist denomination. ... Croydon is a large town and major commercial centre in southern England, and is also an area of Greater London, being the main settlement in the London Borough of Croydon. ... ‹ The template below has been proposed for deletion. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... The Womens Royal Naval Service (WRNS, popularly known as Wrens) was a non-combat branch of the United Kingdom Royal Navy that recruited women. ... The Womens Institutes (WI) are membership organisations for women in England and Wales. ... Sir Bernard Ashley (b. ... Wallington is a town in the London Borough of Sutton situated 10. ...


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 [2] Pimlico is a district in London, England and part of the City of Westminster. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ...


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. The Womens Institute (WI) is a membership organisation for women in England and Wales. ... The Cromwell Road entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum The Victoria and Albert Museum viewed from Thurloe Square The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A) is on Cromwell Road in Kensington, West London. ... 1953 (MCMLIII) was a common year starting on Thursday. ...


Catalyst

Audrey Hepburn inadvertently sparked the growth of one of the world's most successful fashion and home furnishing companies. Hepburn appeared alongside Gregory Peck in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, wearing a headscarf. As such a fashion icon, she instantly created a style that became an instant hit around the globe. Audrey Hepburn (May 4, 1929 – January 20, 1993) was an Academy Award-winning actress of film and theatre, Broadway stage performer, ballerina, fashion model, and humanitarian. ... Gregory Peck (April 5, 1916 – June 12, 2003) was an Oscar-winning American film actor. ... 1953 (MCMLIII) was a common year starting on Thursday. ... Roman Holiday is a 1953 romantic comedy. ...


The Ashleys' scarves were an instant success with stores, retailing both via Mail Order and high street chains such as John Lewis - Bernard left his city job to print fabrics full time. This put them on the road to becoming an international company with a brand that is recognised around the globe. Laura designed the prints and Bernard built the printing equipment, so forging a complementary partnership that was to give the company its unique strength throughout the years. Laura remained in charge of design until shortly before her death, while Bernard handled the operational side. Mail order is a term which describes the buying of goods or services by mail delivery. ... John Lewis can refer to the following people: John L. Lewis (mayor of New Orleans) (1800–1886), mayor of New Orleans 1854–1856 John F. Lewis (1818–1895), United States Senator from Virginia John Lewis (1848–1972), English football player, administrator and referee John Lewis (department store founder) (died 1928...


Employing staff to cope with the growth of sales, the company was originally registered as Ashley Mountney (Laura's maiden name), Sir Bernard changed the name to Laura Ashley because he felt a woman's name was more appropriate for the type of products.


Expansion

The newly formed company moved to Kent in 1955, but the business was nearly wiped out in 1958, when the river Darent overflowed - leaving equipment, dyes and fabrics floating in three feet of water. Turnover rose from £2,000 to £8,000 in 1960, and in light of the birth of the third of their four children, the family moved to Wales in 1961, the country where Laura was born and had spent much of her childhood. Originally located in the social club in Carno, Montgomeryshire; in 1967 the factory moved across to the village's railway station. coat of Arms of Kent For other uses, see Kent (disambiguation). ... 1955 (MCMLV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1967 (MCMLXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar (the link is to a full 1967 calendar). ...


These were crucial times in the development of the company - Bernard had developed his flat-bed printing process to produce 5,000 metres of fabric per week, and in 1966 Laura produced her first dress for social rather than work attire. The long length silhouette become the Laura Ashley trademark. It also was to work successfully in the company's favour as fashion switched from the mini to the maxi skirt at the end of the 1960's - a newspaper suggested that by donning a Laura Ashley number, women could look as beautiful as Katharine Ross in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Katharine Ross (born January 29, 1940 in Los Angeles, California) is an American movie actress whose timeless appearance and graceful, thoughtful manner have led her to be cast in roles of intelligence and daring, often in period settings. ... Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 Western film that tells the story of bank robber Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman) and his partner The Sundance Kid (played by Robert Redford). ...


By 1970, sales had reached £300,000 per year. The first shop under the Laura Ashley name opened in Pelham Street, South Kensington, in 1968, with additional shops opened in Shrewsbury and Bath in 1970. In one week alone, London's Fulham Road shop sold 4,000 dresses - which resulted in the new factory in Newtown, Montgomeryshire. It was the opening of the Paris shop in 1974 which was the first to feature the distinctive green frontage and stripped wooden interior, and in the same year the first USA shop opened in San Francisco. A licensing operation led to the opening of department store concessions in Australia, Canada and Japan from 1971 onwards. The junction with Old Brompton Road and Pelham Street, outside South Kensington tube station. ... Shrewsbury (pronounced either or ) is a town of 70,560 inhabitants [1] in Shropshire, England. ... Bath is a city in South West England most famous for its baths fed by three hot springs. ... Fulham Road is a street in London, England, that runs from the A219 road in Fulham, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, through Chelsea to Brompton Road and the A4 in Brompton, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. ... Newtown (Welsh: Y Drenewydd) is a town with a population of 10,542 (1993) lying on the River Severn in mid Wales. ... City flag City coat of arms Motto: Fluctuat nec mergitur (Latin: Tossed by the waves, she does not sink) Paris Eiffel tower as seen from the esplanade du Trocadéro. ... 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday. ...


By 1975, turnover was £5million per year and the company employed 1,000 people worldwide. Laura turned down the offer of an OBE (she was upset Bernard had not been offered one) but a Queen's Award for Export was accepted in 1977. Turnover reached £25million as Laura Ashley celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1979 with the launch of a range of perfume. The addition of a home in France enabled Laura to go back to her roots of fabric design, and the company launched its home furnishings collections. Commanders Badge of the Order of the British Empire The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V. The Order includes five classes in civil and military divisions, in order of seniority: Knight or Dame Grand Cross... The Queens Award for Enterprise is an award for British companies and other organizations who excel at international trade, innovation or sustainable development. ... For the album by Ash, see 1977 (album). ... For the song by the Smashing Pumpkins, see 1979 (song). ... Perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils and aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents used to give the human body, objects, and living spaces a pleasant smell. ...


After Laura's death

Two months after Laura's death in 1985, Laura Ashley Holdings plc went public in a flotation that was 34 times oversubscribed. The 1980s saw the knighthood of Sir Bernard Ashley, and the launch of additional child and home furnishings ranges. Sir Bernard Ashley (b. ...


However, by the end of the 1980s Laura Ashley was distinctly out of fashion. Women were making inroads in the boardroom, and sharp suits and shoulder pads were at odds with everything Laura Ashley stood for. Sir Bernard's larger-than-life personality and idiosyncratic style of management meant that he fell out of favour with the City. This page is a candidate to be moved to Wiktionary. ... For the film, see The City (movie) soap opera, see The City (TV series) book by Maxmilian Weber, see The City (book) album by Vangelis, see The City (album) prime time television series, see The City (Canadian series) short-lived trio consisting of Charles Larkey, Danny Kortchmar, and Carole King...


First of the new CEOs

In the early 1990s, Laura Ashley plc was suffering from a combination of over expansion of its retail outlets and dependence on what had become an overly complex and costly outsourced network of manufacturers. In 1991, American James Maxmin, Ph.D. became the CEO at Laura Ashley, after pressure on the autocratic Sir Bernard. Over the next two and a half years, Dr. Maxmin led a series of changes, fixing problems in manufacturing and logistics that foreshadowed principles of his later book, The Support Economy, co-authored with his wife, Harvard Business School Professor Shoshana Zuboff. For example, he entered into a strategic alliance with FedEx, forming a sort of proto-federation, aimed at improving distribution for close to 500 Laura Ashley stores. The alliance was established as a 10-year partnership, but it was relatively open-ended, premised on trust. The objective was to be able to supply 99 percent of Laura Ashley’s merchandise to customers anywhere in the world within 48 hours. The alliance replaced a legacy system that would route a T-shirt manufactured in Hong Kong to a warehouse in Newton, Wales, before sending it to a retail store in Japan. Shoshana Zuboff is the Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School (retired). ... FedEx (NYSE: FDX), properly FedEx Corporation, is a courier company offering overnight courier, ground, heavy freight, document copying and logistics services. ...


In 1992, Dr. Maxmin led Laura Ashley to its first gross profits since 1989, and in fiscal 1993, gross profits were expected to reach 12 million pounds. But in early April 1994, two weeks before his wife’s epiphany on national television, Dr. Maxin abruptly resigned from Laura Ashley, citing major differences with Sir Bernard over strategy [3].


Laura Ashley celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1993, the same year that Sir Bernard retired as chairman and became honorary life president. The Ashley family retain an interest in the business and its development. The launch of a children's range and a furniture range helped deflect the looming crisis but by 1997, after a torrid few years and numerous chief executives, the company was in serious financial difficulties.


MUI Asia takeover

In May 1998, MUI Asia Limited became a major shareholder in Laura Ashley Holdings plc and under the new management, this world famous international brand was back in profit. Rescued from the receivers in 1998, 58 per cent of the shares are believed to be controlled directly or indirectly by the company's chairman Dr Koo Kay Peng [4] 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year of the Ocean [1]. // Coated in ice, power and telephone lines sag and often break, resulting in power outages. ... Malayan United Industries Berhad (MUI) was founded in 1960. ... 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year of the Ocean [1]. // Coated in ice, power and telephone lines sag and often break, resulting in power outages. ...


But the company failed to capitalise on its trademark look - probably due to employing its 11th chief executive in 14 years. It closed its flagship store on London's Regent Street in late 2005 because of rent increases, and in March 2005 it launched a £28m law suit against L'Oreal, which manufactured the Laura Ashley perfumes. At Christmas 2004, the chain parted company with couture designer Alistair Blair, who had previously designed for Dior and Givenchy. The LOréal Group ( PAR: 120321), headquartered in Clichy, France, is the worlds leading company in cosmetics and beauty. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Christian Dior (January 21, 1905 – October 23, 1957), was an influential French fashion designer. ... Givenchy (pronounced gee-von-shee) is a line of clothing, accessories, perfumes and cosmetics. ...


In the U.S. in 2005 and 2006 the "Laura Ashley" label is found applied to inexpensive items that lack the "look," sold in department stores such as Sears and Kohl's, further diluting the value of the brand. The home furnishing items are slightly better, continuing to use some of the classic Laura Ashley textile designs.


Ms Lillian Tan, who has been chief executive since January, plans to reduce fashion from 22 per cent of sales to 14 per cent this year - with stores cutting back the space they give to clothes in favour of home furnishings, now the most profitable part of the business.


Personal life

Laura and Sir Bernard (married 1949), were a great complement to each other - both inside the business, and in their personal life. Laura had four children, and loved family life, but the expansion of the business meant the need for an escape point, and for creativity. They bought a house in France in the early 1970's, and kept in touch with the family and business through flying, with Sir Bernard's accomplished skills as a pilot.


The Ashley children were all involved with the business. David, the eldest son now in his early fifties, designed the shops; daughter Jane was the company photographer; another daughter Emma and their second son Nick were part of the company's fashion design team. Sir Bernard Ashley was the company chairman and Laura kept a close eye on fabrics. The astonishing success of what proved to be the ultimate cottage industry, bought the Ashleys a yacht, a private plane, a French chateau in Picardy, a town-house in Brussels, and the villa Contenta in Lyford Cay, New Providence, Bahamas currently up for sale at $8.5million [5] wazzup Categories: | ... Nickname: Map showing the location of Brussels in Belgium Coordinates: Country Belgium Region Brussels-Capital Region Founded 979 Founded (Region) June 18, 1989 Government  - Mayor (Municipality) Freddy Thielemans Area  - Region 162 km²  (62. ...


In 1985, on her 60th birthday, while she was visiting her children in the UK, Laura fell down the stairs and was rushed to hospital where she died ten days later. It was a sudden and unexpected loss but her name lives on through her business. She is buried in the churchyard of St John the Baptist, in Carno, Powys, Wales Powys is a local government principal area and a preserved county in Wales. ...


Foundation

The Laura Ashley Foundation was set up in 1987, in memory of Laura Ashley who had died a year before, by Sir Bernard to help individuals realise their potential and release talent. It is very much a family affair and the Ashley family are actively involved in the day to day running of the foundation.


References

  1. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast/halloffame/arts/laura_ashley.shtml
  2. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~copestake/newsltr2.htm
  3. ^ http://www.thesupporteconomy.com/reviews15.html
  4. ^ http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/business.cfm?id=1663342005
  5. ^ http://www.damianos.com/Listings/ListingDetail.ASPX?LID=10415308

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Laura Ashley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (136 words)
Laura Ashley (1925- 17 September 1985) was a British designer, born Laura Mountney in Wales.
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, which were originally produced by her factory in Newtown, Montgomeryshire.
In May 1998, MUI Asia Limited became a major shareholder in Laura Ashley Holdings plc and under the new management, this world famous international brand is back in profit.
Laura Ashley (1159 words)
Laura designed the prints and Bernard built the printing equipment, so forging a complementary partnership that was to give the company its unique strength throughout the years.
Laura turned down the offer from Buckingham Palace of an OBE (she was upset Bernard had not been offered one) but a Queen's Award for Export was gladly accepted in 1977.
Laura shifted her attention from clothes back to fabrics and the company launched its home furnishings collections which have grown in importance for the company today as global markets respond to strong home and fashion trends.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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