Laura Ashley, (7 Septembre 1925 au 17 Septembre 1985) était une styliste galloise. Elle est devenue un nom familier grâce à son travail en tant que concepteur et fabricant d'une gamme de tissus colorés pour les vêtements et d'accessoires de maison.
Bien que ses parents Gallois aient vécu à Londres, juste avant sa naissance, sa mère est retournée au Pays de Galles. 

Laura a été élevé dans une famille de la fonction publique comme une baptiste stricte. Formée à l'école de Marshall à Merthyr Tydfil jusqu'en 1932, elle a ensuite été envoyée à l'école Elmwood, Croydon. En 1942, elle quitte l'école à 16 ans, et sert dans le Service féminin de la Marine royale. Pendant cette période, elle a rencontré l'ingénieur Bernard Ashley à un club de jeunes de Wallington. Après la guerre, Bernard fut envoyé en Inde avec les Gurkhas, et le couple correspond par lettre. De 1945 à 1952 elle a travaillé comme secrétaire de la Fédération nationale des associations de femmes à Londres, et se marie avec Bernard en 1949.

scoopdressDM0104_228x337
Tout en travaillant comme secrétaire et assurant l'éducation de ses deux premiers enfants, elle a entrepris des travaux à l'Institut des femmes sur le patchwork. Reprenant le métier qu'elle avait appris avec sa grand-mère, à temps partiel, elle  conçoit des foulards, serviettes, sets de table et torchons que Bernard imprime sur une machine qu'il avait conçu dans un grenier à Pimlico.
Le couple avait investi 10 € en bois pour le cadre de l'écran, des colorants et quelques mètres de toile. Laura trouve son inspiration pour commencer à produire du tissu imprimé dans l'artisanat traditionnel. Lorsque Laura cherche de petites parcelles de  motifs victoriens pour l'aider à faire des patchworks, elle ne trouve rien. Il y avait là une occasion, et elle commence à imprimer du tissu avec un style victorien en 1953.
Les foulards Ashleys sont rapidement devenu un succès. 

Cela va mettre les Ashley sur la voie d'une société internationale avec une marque qui est reconnue partout dans le monde. Laura conçoit le style  et Bernard construit le matériel d'impression. Laura est restée en charge de la conception jusqu'à peu de temps avant sa mort, tandis que Bernard a conservé l'aspect opérationnel.
La société a été enregistrée comme Ashley Mountney (nom de jeune fille de Laura), mais Bernard a changé le nom en Laura Ashley parce qu'il sentait qu'un nom de femme était plus approprié pour le type de produits. La nouvelle société s'installe à Kent en 1955, mais lorsque le troisième de leurs quatre enfants nait, la famille déménage au Pays de Galles. La première boutique Laura Ashley a été inaugurée à Machynlleth, Powys (35, rue Maengwyn). La famille vivait au-dessus du magasin pendant 6 ans avant de passer à Carno, Powys.
Laura Ashley est décédée en 1985 d'une hémorragie cérébrale subie dix jours après sa chute dans les escaliers de la maison de sa fille dans la campagne anglaise avant son 60e anniversaire. Deux mois après sa mort, Laura Ashley Holdings est devenue publique.
labrides1982cover_opt

Sir Bernard est mort du cancer le 14 Février 2009.
La Laura Ashley Foundation a été créée en 1987 par son veuf afin d'aider les individus à réaliser leur potentiel et le talent . La famille d'Ashley est activement impliquée dans son fonctionnement au jour le jour.

laura_ashley

 

Laura Ashley, (7 September 1925 – 17 September 1985) was a Welshdesigner. 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.

Although her Welsh parents lived in London, just before her birth, her mother returned home to allow Laura Mountneyto be born Welsh at her grandmothers home 31 Station Terrace, in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil. Laura was raised in a civil servicefamily as a strict Baptist. The chapel she attended in Dowlais (Hebron) was Welsh languageand 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 aged 13, with so many World War 2evacuees there were no school places left, and she resultantly attended the AberdareSecretarial School. In 1942, she left school at 16, and served in the Women's Royal Naval Service. During this period she met engineer Bernard Ashleyat a youth club in Wallington. After the war, Bernard was posted to Indiawith the Gurkhas, and the pair corresponded by letter. From 1945 to 1952 she worked as a secretary for the National Federation of Women's Institutes in London, marrying Bernard in 1949.[1]

While working as a secretary and raising her first two children, she undertook some development work for the Women's Institute on quilt work. Taking up the craft she had learnt with her grandmother, part-time she designed headscarves, napkins, table mats and tea-towels which Bernard printed on a machine he had designed in an attic flat in Pimlico.

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 Institutedisplay 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 Ashleys' scarves quickly became successful 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 recognized around the globe. Laura designed the prints and Bernard built the printing equipment; Laura remained in charge of design until shortly before her death, while Bernard handled the operational side.

Employing staff to cope with the growth of sales, the company was originally registered as Ashley Mountney (Laura's maiden name), Bernard changed the name to Laura Ashley because he felt a woman's name was more appropriate for the type of products. The new company moved to Kentin 1955, but when the third of their four children was born, the family moved to Walesin 1961, the country where Laura was born and had spent much of her childhood.

Laura Ashley's first shop was opened in Machynlleth, Powys(35 Maengwyn Street) - it still trades as an interior design shop, and the Laura Ashley association is commemorated by a small plaque. The family lived above the shop for 6 years before moving to Carno, Powys.

In 1975 Laura turned down the offer of an OBE(she was upset Bernard had not been offered one). 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.

Laura Ashley died in 1985 of a brain hemorrhagesuffered ten days after she fell down the stairs of her daughter's English country home on her 60th birthday. Two months after her death, Laura Ashley Holdings went public in a flotation that was 34 times oversubscribed.

Laura and Sir Bernard 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 1970s. Sir Bernard's qualification as a pilot enabled them to keep in touch with family and business.

The Ashley children were all involved with the business. David (born 1954/55), the eldest son, 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 Contentain Lyford Cay, New Providence, Bahamas, just purchased for $8.5 million dollars by TJ Maloney.[5][6]

In 1985, on her 60th birthday, while she was visiting her children in the UK, Laura fell down the stairs and was taken to hospital in Coventry, West Midlands; she died 10 days later.[7]She is buried in the churchyard of St John the Baptist, in Carno, Powys, Wales.

Sir Bernard died of cancer on 14 February 2009.

The Laura Ashley Foundation was set up in 1987 by her widower to help individuals realise their potential and release talent. The Ashley family are actively involved in its day-to-day running.

Source : Wikipédia