In the Archives: A Touch of Toile

Whilst we celebrate the launch of our latest collaboration with Urban Outfitters why not read about one of our heritage prints used in the collection… read more

Since hitting the catwalk for the latest Dior Cruise collection back in May of last year, the almost 300 year old print “Toile”, or “Toile De Jouy” to be correct, has made a spectacular comeback across fashion and interiors. Laura Ashley’s famous take on this classic print first launched eighteen years ago and is soon set to take centre stage once more, featuring in our brand new clothing collaboration with Urban Outfitters. To celebrate the relaunch of this fabulous print we look into the amazing history behind the iconic print.

In the Archives: A Touch of Toile
In the Archives: A Touch of Toile

Toile Origins…

Originating in Britain and France throughout the second half of the eighteenth century, the term “Toile De Jouy” typically refers to a type of off-white cotton or linen, printed in a single tone. Often depicting complex pastoral countryside scenes, this print was most commonly used in furnishing fabrics and wallpaper to decorate grand Rococo interiors. Inspired by an antique blue lithograph drawing acquired by the Ashley family, Laura Ashley first introduced “Toile” for our AW01 furnishings collection in soft shades of cerise, lavender and delphinium.

Featuring a long list of different elements including shepherds, shepherdesses, cupids, windmills, pleasure gardens and ruins of country houses to name a few, the striking print soon became a customer favourite and was rolled out across bedlinen, home accessories and even children’s toys by 2004.

In the Archives: A Touch of Toile In the Archives: A Touch of Toile In the Archives: A Touch of Toile In the Archives: A Touch of Toile In the Archives: A Touch of Toile

Exhibition worthy…

Two years later in 2006 our “Toile” print sat alongside the likes of high designers including Versace, Hermes and Gianfranco Ferré in the retrospective exhibition “Mode in Jouy”. Hosted by the Musee de la Toile de Jouy, a small museum on the outskirts of Versailles dedicated to this type of antique printing, the display charted the many interpretations of this classic print across contemporary design. Exhibiting five pieces from the Laura Ashley archive, mostly decorative trinket objects, our more traditional take on this print offered a nice contrast against the very avant-garde creations shown like this one made by Spanish designer Tolo Crespi. Who’d of thought that this dress and a Laura Ashley piece would share a similar history.


It’s in the bag…

Jump forward to Spring 2014 and “Toile” gets a fresh new look after thirteen years since its debut. The design focus on jewel colours that season can be seen in our “Flamboyance” and “Peony Amethyst” ranges. The pastoral scenes in “Toile” were now rendered in vibrant green, purple, pink and blue tones. You could say its Laura Ashley’s take on Pop art! Drawing influence from the more colourful and conversational pieces we have here in the archive—like this stunning fabric piece depicting a carnival scene, our revamped “Toile” was to feature solely on shop carrier bags and other packaging items. Whilst we might be a little biased, we’d definitely say that this was a bag for life.

In the Archives: A Touch of Toile
In the Archives: A Touch of Toile

Laura Ashley and Urban Outfitters

Today the iconic print is set to make a comeback in a Laura Ashley/Urban Outfitters collaboration. Featuring on day dresses, denim jeans, swimwear and neck tie bandana’s, the Laura Ashley heritage “Toile” print will make it’s way to the UK this May, after a successful launch in the US. Shown here in those original antique hues, the delicate print works well with these prairie-style silhouettes and gives us a great flashback to that 80s Laura Ashley girl we all know and love. It’s a toile that takes you on a trip…

In the Archives: A Touch of Toile In the Archives: A Touch of Toile

What do you think of Laura Ashley’s famous Toile prints? Do you own anything with the Toile pattern? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @lauraashleyuk.

Want to donate to the Laura Ashley archive? If you have a piece like this, or any other for that matter and are happy to donate it to the Laura Ashley Archive then please feel free to email for further details.

One Comment

Surprised you didn’t launch this retro range yourselves! It is exactly what LA needs to draw in the younger customer who like myself was drawn back in the eighties by this prairie styling incorporating vintage fabric patterns. Those youthful customers will then go on to be your lifelong devotees like myself looking for the LA spin on the everyday. I am confident these products will fly off the shelves judging by my daughters interest maybe it’s time for LA to introduce an alternative young adult range which draws on its fashion forward past? My only worry is the new customers will come looking for more of this style in store but won’t find it and disappear again. I also think having a girls range creates this kind of loyalty to the brand. Love LA so much I truly want it to survive. Good luck.

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