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Country :: the look

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Laura Ashley's dresses

Ashley's son Nick talks through the ideas behind her dresses

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The ideals of Laura Ashley

Nick and Jane Ashley talk about the label's moral values

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Laura Ashley's design philosophy

Nick and Jane Ashley discuss the country ideals behind the Ashley label

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Cath Kidston on vintage fashion

When the Laura Ashley look she reinvented became popular

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Cath Kidston on dresses

How Kidston developed her own range based on the classic tea dress style

Something Old, Something New

Cath Kidston started out her business from very humble beginnings and often couldn’t afford to spend a lot of money on fabrics. A fateful misunderstanding turned her prospects around when she ordered a batch of gingham that arrived in the form of duvet covers and pillows. From this, Kidston decided to cut the fabric up and remake it into various items including ironing board covers and wash bags. The designs became a huge success, tapping into the nostalgic ideas of the country whilst still being quite kitsch. Kidston’s ranges then expanded to develop a range of dresses based on vintage tea dress designs which she used to salvage from charity shops and remake.

Before Kidston, Laura Ashley also popularised the maxi dress in the 70s as a reaction against the super-short Mary Quant mini skirt. It's success fed into a widespread desire to hold on to more romantic ideas of the past.

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