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Strange Laura Ashley dress - help, anyone?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by TinTrunk, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. TinTrunk

    TinTrunk Registered Guest

    This is a fun one (I hope!) that I would love some help with.

    A very strange early Laura Ashley dress with a medieval style and print. It is full length, with a metal zip at the back, and has elbow-length flared (bell?) sleeves over long narrow sleeves, an empire waist with self fabric tie belt and three rather redundant translucent pearly plastic buttons on the bodice.

    The label is exactly the same as the first example in the VFG label resource, so there's a vague date of late 60s/early 70s, but I've failed to find anything similar to this in my research.

    It doesn't seem to fit with the rural milkmaid/frills and aprons/tiny floral print that is associated with Laura Ashley clothing at that time.

    If anyone knows anything about the collection this came from, and its date - or can point me to further research resources - I will be eternally grateful! I've checked the Gallery of Costume's collection of Laura Ashley catalogues but they don't have anything from before the late 70s.


    Sorry, this is my only decent picture of the dress but I hope you can get the idea from it. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

  2. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    I haven't handled a lot of Laura Ashley but I did handle a dress that looked similar to this however it had short sleeves. I recall being told by the original owner that it had been used as a bridesmaid dress in 1972 but I don't have the pics anymore and I sold the dress ten years ago probably now...
  3. joules

    joules VFG Member

    I have some 70's and 80's Laura Ashley catalogs, but I think this predates anything in my ones. It's a very interesting departure.
  4. vertugarde

    vertugarde Alumni

    This looks like one of those wallpaper/block-printed style designs that Laura Ashley produced. There were some interesting dress lines using furnishing designs which this could well be. I think it dates from the 1970's.
  5. Beautiful print - I agree that it's late '60s, early '70s. The darkness of the colours reminds me of the Biba designs so perhaps there is a little influence there?

  6. TinTrunk

    TinTrunk Registered Guest

    Jonathan - that's so tantalising because you're the only person who has seen similar! I'm guessing you don't have pictures of it anymore, but was it a similar print and colour?

    Joules - exactly! Her designs drew from history, but this one went back a bit further than usual!

    vertugarde - that's a really interesting point. It does look like a furnishing textile print (it would make some lovely curtains!)

    Thanks Nicole! That dark red/burgundy could have come from Biba's palette, I agree. There was an element of hippy styles that drew from the middle ages (romantic, Lady Guinevere etc) and it seems to be in that vein.

    A big thanks for all your responses - you've given me plenty to think about!

    Sarah :elf:
  7. amandainvermont

    amandainvermont VFG Member

    When I lived in London in 1970 I bought the following Laura Ashley dress, which has a similar medieval pattern. It was made with a very fine corduroy, full length, metal zip up the back.


    Do you know Daniel? I last knew him as “mabverick” on eBay. He was/is extremely knowledgeable about early Laura Ashleys. When I showed him the label he got all excited - and I only remember there was another name on it as well. Daniel ended up buying the dress.

    Is there anything unusual about your label?
  8. TinTrunk

    TinTrunk Registered Guest

    Oooh, Amanda, that's a fantastic dress!

    I remember that Laura Ashley liked needlecord, but mine is a mid to lightweight plain cotton and it looks like its screenprinted.

    The label on my dress is exactly the same as the first one in the label resource (no other names or details).

    I've just looked up mabverick on Ebay and he's still there, but his last transaction was in 2006. Do you think he would mind if I contacted him about this? The dress has been in my collection for a good few years and I'm not actually thinking about selling it - I just want to find out more about it.

  9. amandainvermont

    amandainvermont VFG Member

    He's still posting on the doll boards at eBay and I'm quite sure he'd be happy to help.
  10. The Vintage Merchant

    The Vintage Merchant Administrator Staff Member

    Sarah, keep us posted as to what you discover, if you do!
  11. TinTrunk

    TinTrunk Registered Guest

    Amanda - that's great news! I'll definitely pursue this, and I will mention that my lead was the VFG forum, and yourself - if that's ok with you of course. I will wait until you let me know if that's ok before I do.

    Mary - I will certainly report back with anything I discover :)

  12. joules

    joules VFG Member

    Sarah, I am going to go look through that closet for the catalogs too, just for the heck of it.
  13. TinTrunk

    TinTrunk Registered Guest

    Joules - thanks for taking the trouble to check for me, I really appreciate that! :clapping:

    There's nothing similar that I can find online at least, so I'm hoping you might be able to dig something up.

    I'd love to nail the date, and possibly the collection.

  14. amandainvermont

    amandainvermont VFG Member

    Yes Sarah - that's fine. It was a long time ago ...
  15. joules

    joules VFG Member

    Where those catalogs have gotten to, is God's own mystery; suffice it to say, they were not found, where I expected they would be. Still searching....
  16. TinTrunk

    TinTrunk Registered Guest

    Cheers Amanda! I'll send him a message today, and I will report back if I find out anything.

    Joules - I know this is a busy time of year for traders (I wish I was busier :lol: ) There's no rush on this, honest!

    I'm going to see if I can look through some of the British Vogues at the Gallery of Costume sometime too. Occasionally you can strike lucky . . .

  17. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    I admit, this looks nothing like what I usually think of as Laura Ashley. I remember when they had a shop here in Zurich in the 80s, and what kind of clothes they had.

    I looked through my books and found no dress like this one either. But here's a pic of three Laura Ashley prints that I found in one book, that are supposed to be from the 60s. The one on the left and the one in the middle do remind me a little bit of your dress!


  18. TinTrunk

    TinTrunk Registered Guest

    Wow, thanks for taking that trouble Karin! I see what you mean, especially the technique of one flat colour printed onto cotton.

    Like Joules said earlier, the dress looks like quite a departure from Laura Ashley's style as we know it. Perhaps that collection didn't sell very well!

    Today at the museum I took the chance to flick through the 1969 Vogues (I'll start there and work up to about 1972).

    Or at least I thought I did - it turned out that I had pulled out the bound volume numbered '69' which was actually 1967! :BAGUSE:

    Saw lots of great pictures of Twiggy in her prime, though so it wasn't all bad!

  19. vintspiration

    vintspiration Alumni

    I adore that print. And I think the neckline and sleeves are pretty cool too.
  20. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    I can't speak specifically to Laura Ashley, but I remember prints and styling (the Medieval sort of look, with the various sleeve treatments (bishop, bell, angel, etc.) were very popular when I was a senior in high school ('71/'72). I'm guessing this is from around then. Very lovely dress, btw!

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