LOOKING BACK: JANE ASHLEY’S ICONIC PHOTOGRAPHY

How Jane Ashley pioneered the image of Laura Ashley in the 1970's and 80's

The irrefutably feminine and Victoriana inspired image of Laura Ashley in the 1970’s and 80’s was largely defined by Jane Ashley, Laura Ashley’s oldest daughter. Her role as company photographer and art director, shooting everything from the advertising campaigns to instore graphics, brought us the soft distinctive aesthetic that we first fell for in the 70’s and still hold in our memories today.

Jane’s pictures captured the rural romantiscm of the brand at the time when our iconic floral frocks and country inspired styles were entirely en vogue.

Photograph by Jane Ashley circa 1973.

Last week we took to the Fashion & Textile Museum in London to celebrate her work and enjoy an insightful talk from Martin Wood (author of the Laura Ashley book) on the history behind Jane’s images, from her early work when she not only took the pictures but also styled and modelled the clothes on her very own circle of friends. Bernard Ashley bought Jane her very first camera when she was 19 years old, and after taking photography classes asked her to create some publicity photographs for their expanding number of shops. Jane set off with her best friend, Oriana, as her model to the nearby river Thames where she posed her in a Twenties style dress and shoes. Her creativity later led to a place at Chelsea School of Art where she met punk band The Clash (of whom she is still friends) and Viv Albertine from the Slits, who were later photographed for Laura Ashley and feature in her collection of images on display at The Fashion & Textile Museum today. The images of The Clash and Viv Albertine can be seen in our popular Pimlico range …

Jane Ashley photograph featuring Mick Jones and Paul Simonon from 70’s punk band The Clash

AW11 Pimlico range

Spicer and Paul at the Southbank 1976. Photograph by Jane Ashley.

After the talk we had a chance to browse her beautiful mainly black and white photographs. Each image in the display is taken from a Laura Ashley campaign and conveys a particular narrative whether set in a Victorian farmhouse, Parisian cafe, Edwardian park or rural ‘dustbowl’ America…

Photograph by Jane Ashley circa 1973.

We also got to chat to Martin Wood and meet Jane herself, who was accompanied by Laura Ashley’s youngest daughter Emma. Tripping over ourselves to get pictures of the guests that turned up wearing vintage Laura Ashley, we were delighted to meet blogger Bree Croon (who blogs about her vintage Laura Ashley dresses on her blog Cabinet of Wonder) and Lily Ashley (Jane’s niece) looking a picture of elegance in her Laura Ashley floor length black label dress, which we can only assume has been passed down to her through the Ashley generations.

Jane Ashley smiling at the camera after the talk

Blogger Bree from blog Cabinet Of Wonder

Lily Ashley dressed in vintage Laura Ashley.

Jane Ashley is now showing ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back Photographing Laura Ashley’ as part of the ‘Catwalk to Cover’ exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum (until the 26th February).

 

5 Comments

Martin Woods rocks…quietly – such a lovely guy and worked so hard on the Laura Ashley Autobiography – love his work. Mortified I missed the exhibition!! Great post by the way.

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