At WHSmith we work closely with Laura Ashley to create exclusive designs which reflect the latest trends and the Laura Ashley style and elegance we have come to love. Our range includes a selection of high quality home office storage lines, premium notebooks and journals in addition to social stationery items such as address books and photo albums.
The current Laura Ashley Josette and Eaton Stripe designs combine beautifully for a subtle yet sophisticated appeal showcased in a rich purple and classic cream colour palette. The luxurious Josette features subtle curlicue florals inspired by 18th century France to bring a touch of chateau elegance to your home. The dark grape floral print and cream stripes work well to create a stylish eye-catching look whether you use them in the office or bedroom.
The History Of Laura Ashley
From printing fabric on their home kitchen table in 1953 to being a household designer name, Laura and Bernard Ashley could never have dreamed of their brand's success.
The young, entrepreneurial London-based couple decided to produce their own fabric to make patchwork quilts, after finding a lack of suitable materials in the shops. An initial ten pound investment for a screen, dyes and linen was to kick-start their dream. They started out producing small squares with geometric patterns, around the time that Audrey Hepburn's headscarves sparked a trend amongst fashionable girls. The Ashleys decided to ride the wave of this trend and started to produce the scarves themselves. Within a short timeframe they were selling vast quantities to the likes of John Lewis and Heal's.
The name Ashley Mountney Ltd (their combined married name and Laura's maiden name) was registered in 1954, but was soon changed to Laura Ashley as it was thought to better represent their increasingly-popular products. The couple moved to rural Kent in 1955, giving them the space they needed to develop the company. In 1958 they opened a showroom in London, highlighting the many products they now offered - from small household items to large-scale single panel textiles.
In the 1960s, they moved to Laura's home country of Wales and opened a shop (which they lived above). Laura worked as a seamstress, producing smock-like shirts. Bernard's business mind, combined with Laura's passion for all things Victorian, have underpinned their success; the feminine styles have become the company's trademark. 1968 saw the opening of Laura Ashley in South Kensington, London. By the 1970s, more and more shops were opening, with the Fulham Road branch selling 4,000 dresses in just one week. Department store concessions opened in Australia, Canada and Japan, and by the end of the 70s there were over 70 Laura Ashley stores worldwide.
In 1979, Laura and Bernard moved to northern France. Here, Laura was inspired and influenced by her surroundings, and their new products took on more of a 'country house' look. They also produced more radical designs aimed at the interior design market. However, tragedy struck in 1985 when Laura died after falling down some stairs. The brand felt her loss profoundly, but her strong design ethos has remained to the present day.
By the end of the 1980s, Laura Ashley had 450 stores worldwide. In 1993, the company celebrated its 40th anniversary and Bernard became an honorary president. 1999 saw the launch of the Laura Ashley Design Service and in 2001 the Laura Ashley website went live, bringing an entirely new shopping experience to their customers. The company has increased its products to include eyewear, carpets, towels and tiles. Laura Ashley stationery is also now available exclusively from WHSmith. Inspired by the brand's classic fabrics and wallpapers, the designs are contemporary but sophisticated. From notebooks to storage boxes, Laura Ashley stationery products add a touch of style to any home or office.