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How Laura Ashley rises from the ashes thanks to a collaboration with American designer Batsheva Hay

Laura Ashley has announced a limited edition collaboration with a New York-based designer as she continues to recover after being forced to close more than 100 stores due to Covid.

The British fashion retailer, who started at Laura Ashley’s kitchen table in 1953, was the first high-profile victim of the pandemic when it collapsed after failing bailout funds, forcing all 123 stores in the UK to close by July 2020. its factory in Wales and its website, which cost more than 1,600 jobs.

But the brand was rescued by Gordon Brothers, the global consulting, restructuring and investment firm, which has invested in restoring the brand to its former glory, including launching a partnership with Next.

Now in its latest move, the retailer has launched a 15-piece collaboration with independent designer Batsheva Hay, who has produced a range of smocked and layered dresses based on the retailer’s archival prints and line drawings.

Laura Ashley has announced a limited edition collaboration with a New York-based designer as she continues to recover after being forced to close more than 100 stores due to Covid.  Pictured, Batsheva Hay designing one of the pieces from her Laura Ashley series

Laura Ashley has announced a limited edition collaboration with a New York-based designer as she continues to recover after being forced to close more than 100 stores due to Covid. Pictured, Batsheva Hay designing one of the pieces from her Laura Ashley series

Priced at £218 in the Serene print, the York dress features a bold floral design with a gold and black collar.  The collection, priced from £36 ($50) to £229 ($315), is available on the Laura Ashley website for US shoppers.  In the UK it is available through Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion

Priced at £218 in the Serene print, the York dress features a bold floral design with a gold and black collar.  The collection, priced from £36 ($50) to £229 ($315), is available on the Laura Ashley website for US shoppers.  In the UK it is available through Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion

Priced at £218 in the Serene print, the York dress features a bold floral design with a gold and black collar. The collection, priced from £36 ($50) to £229 ($315), is available on the Laura Ashley website for US shoppers. In the UK it is available through Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion

The collection, priced from £36 ($50) to £229 ($315), is available on the Laura Ashley website for US shoppers. In the UK it is available through Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion.

It is the first time Laura Ashley has collaborated on a collection with another female designer.

Talking about how the brand inspired her own designs, Batsheva said: ‘When I made my first dress a few years ago, my idea was to take a classic Laura Ashley shape and modify all sorts of things – the neck a bit ruffle, add contrasting fabrics, bring the waist up,” she explained.

“All I wanted to do was revisit and rethink Laura Ashley and this is my chance to do it. I work with archival prints, line drawings and garments and mix them together.’

The designer added: “I grew up in Queens in the 1980s, and we drove to Manhattan to visit the Laura Ashley store on Madison Avenue. Laura Ashley always symbolized my dream of femininity – natural and romantic and a bit costume-like.”

The Welsh tiered dress in the Sherwood Forrest print (pictured on Batsheva) is one of the matching mother-daughter pieces and costs £203.90 for the grown-up version.  Batsheva, who has produced a range of smocked and layered dresses based on the retailer's archival prints

The Welsh tiered dress in the Sherwood Forrest print (pictured on Batsheva) is one of the matching mother-daughter pieces and costs £203.90 for the grown-up version.  Batsheva, who has produced a range of smocked and layered dresses based on the retailer's archival prints

The Welsh tiered dress in the Sherwood Forrest print (pictured on Batsheva) is one of the matching mother-daughter pieces and costs £203.90 for the grown-up version. Batsheva, who has produced a range of smocked and layered dresses based on the retailer’s archival prints

The pieces reflect Laura Ashley's classic prints and styles, such as these 80s bridal designs

The pieces reflect Laura Ashley's classic prints and styles, such as these 80s bridal designs

The pieces reflect Laura Ashley’s classic prints and styles, such as these 80s bridal designs

Designer Batsheva has modeled her favorite pieces from the collection, including a voluminous smock called the York dress, which features a clash of yellows and pinks, floral blues and bold greens and is complete with striking ruffles, tie sleeves and collar.

Laura and Bernard Ashley entered the business from their kitchen table in 1953 and printed fabric in their tiny Pimlico flat.

They built the company into a national chain before her death in 1985 from a brain haemorrhage after falling down the stairs at her daughter’s house just days after her 60th birthday.

Laura Ashley has tried to reinvent herself several times. Notably in 2007, when it re-released a selection of classic designs, but in more modern, more malleable fabrics and colours, such as dove grey.

Designer Batsheva has modeled her favorite pieces from the collection, including this dress that combines the Laura Ashley pattern with her modern take.

Designer Batsheva has modeled her favorite pieces from the collection, including this dress that combines the Laura Ashley pattern with her modern take.

Designer Batsheva has modeled her favorite pieces from the collection, including this dress that combines the Laura Ashley pattern with her modern take.

The collection combines Victorian-inspired silhouettes with Laura Ashley floral prints in a range of 15 pieces.  Pictured: Batsheva in a dress priced at £218

The collection combines Victorian-inspired silhouettes with Laura Ashley floral prints in a range of 15 pieces.  Pictured: Batsheva in a dress priced at £218

The collection combines Victorian-inspired silhouettes with Laura Ashley floral prints in a range of 15 pieces. Pictured: Batsheva in a dress priced at £218

And again in 2013, when it raided the archives and reissued classic designs, including the very first scarf from 1954, this time in silk.

But in March 2020, it was set to close 70 stores permanently, with plans to cut 268 office jobs and lay off more than 1,500 employees.

Gordon Brothers came to the rescue and has tried to bring back one of the great British brands.

It was relaunched in the spring with stores in Next stores and a Next website. This includes a flagship Laura Ashley store in Westfield in West London, which occupies 3,000 sqm of the huge Next store there.

Gordon Brothers hinted that it might not be the last collaboration for the brand.

Carolyn D’Angelo, the investment firm’s brand managing director and global Laura Ashley President, commented: “Batsheva, who is such an inspiring designer and fan of the Laura Ashley brand, has brought real passion and life into every piece.

“Being part of Batsheva’s creative process to bring high fashion pieces to market has inspired us to create more collaborations with Laura Ashley.

“We’re excited to continue working with brands and designers who continue to be inspired by Laura Ashley’s legacy.”

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