'Laura Ashley gave the world the chaste cotton print maxi-dress in earth-hewn natural colours and a notion of life in a golden age; a pastoral idyll far away from mad city life.'
Well it's a very long time since I laid eyes on this...
and even longer since I washed and ironed them, but now that they are museum artefacts it seemed the right thing to do. Shove them through a 40 degree/1300 spin and at least put them back in the loft clean and pressed, because these are now officially my vintage Laura Ashley items.
The long dress came from the Sloane Street shop in 1973 and cost a whopping £6.30, in the days when student nurses only earned £12 a week. I obviously decided not to eat for a month or something, and would need to starve for much longer to get back into it now. We used to swan around London in them, and don't ask how I never came a cropper on the underground, or the escalators, or fell under a train, it looks like a walking death trap waiting to happen. As for the smock, well wait for it, I used to wear that with a bright yellow cheesecloth shirt and thought I was the bees-knees with my colour combinations, it is almost worn to shreds, I lived in it for years, long after the moment had passed I'm sure.
It was Anne Sebba's biography, Laura Ashley - A Life by Design (more of which on Wednesday) that sent me scurrying up into the loft in the first place, and in the vain hope that more LA 'things' would come to light.
I have now decided that it is no good crying over lost LA 'things' ...
...the bridesmaid's dress I wore for my brother's wedding, the purple swan design with a long white smock over the top (very over-the-top) cut up to make a costume for Offspringette for a Victorian day at school, not even a scrap of it remains.
...the long green pinafore with frilled hem that I wore for our evening wedding reception in 1976...nowhere to be found.
.. it probably went the way of the later dresses from the 1980s that I took into the 50/50 shop and where they sold like hotcakes because people with far more sense than me could see their long-term value (Bookhound did say so at the time)
...the crumpled mish-mash of a hexagon 'thing' made from those original bags of fabric off-cuts sold for patchwork. I remember throwing it away years ago, what on earth was I thinking.
...the countless sets of curtains, long gone, given away, sent to jumble sales.
Apart from my vintage 'collection' all that remains is the Kayaker's still unfinished baby quilt... I really should get a move on, maybe finish it for his 31st birthday..
And a more recent disappointment, the 60th anniversary exhibition at the Fashion Museum in Bath which I didn't hear about until it had moved umpteen miles further north to the Bowes Museum near Durham. If you are nearby the exhibition is on until January, and that opening quote comes from the exhibition catalogue which I sent for as a consolation, and have been poring over ever since.
As well as a potted history and some wonderful photographs...here's my dress on page eleven, proof of antiquity..
... the catalogue recounts various personal experiences of LA dress-wearing... the weddings, the clog-dancing team, the dreaded white pin-tuck blouses with full sleeves (also pin-tucked) that took half a day to iron.
I've been trying to remember what it was all about and why we fell for it with such a passion. London in the 1970s should and must have been rife with the freedoms and statements of feminism and Virago books, we were young, we had just left home, the city and city life were at our beckoning yet there I was wandering around looking like a milkmaid. Maybe this was an expression of feminism of a different kind.
So how about you...I can't have been the only one ...