I came of age in the era of the the Laura Ashley trend, and all through the eighties into the nineties, you would find me in prairie skirts, possibly though rarely with a petty coat, and nearly always with leather & wood clogs or old lace-up boots. I sought anything that spoke of times passed, and of belonging to rural backroads. Having flown the nest, as my mother busied herself creating her little English cottage garden in the backyard of herbs and roses, I was setting up my first apartment of a big room in an old downtown Victorian, and was luckily within a short walk of a couple local thrift shops, sleuthing finds from days gone by, and as I established my first little nest, I discovered myself. Laura Ashley helped blaze the trail with with Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, et al. and like a blizzard, all those Designers of Nostalgia came on the scene together, influencing design trends all through the Eighties and into the Nineties. I was longingly lost in a dream of old-fashioned country comforts, and in general home decorating trends were boldly sentimental, a wistful and affectionate statement of generations before, of grandmas’ homes remembered of earliest childhoods. Perhaps it was a rebound from the crazy sixties-spilling-into-seventies, all worn and tattered, we just needed to retreat into a quiet reflective solitude, for once trend was not looking forward, but softening to the past. Popularized anew, the cottage nostalgia was everywhere, Shabby Chic was born, chipped paint and old patina became the rage, as well as frugality of mix-match, patchwork of prairie & farm, floral printed fabrics paired with stripes and polka dots and more full-bloom English Rose motifs and field flowers, all in pretty pastels, as if one could literally swim in a faded wash over of Times Past.
I found a documentary about Laura Ashley, and learned that she herself was apparently more puritan and ascetic in real life than her consumers could ever guess, which maybe shows in the large mantle collars of some of the dresses and really , all of them having a kind of early century modesty. I can relate in my own life, over the years banishing the prodigal and finding the elusive straight and narrow, striving for a balance of less-is-more, settling into a bit more of an austere home style in my middle age, perhaps in rebound of the many years I lived with the heavily laden comforts of the cottage aesthetic. But I just have to think about it, I guess I still have a powerful warp of cottage nostalgia woven through my life, I won’t even try to fool myself, because it all does seem oh so inviting.
Um, about now I bet you’re wondering what is all this leading to? As you may have already noticed the floral theme ( the last post being the first ), there possibly may be a streak of floral themed posts in the territory ahead. I’m working on a project and exploring more about the the subject, in order to entertain myself at the very least, and once the yarn gets here I plan to rattle it off very quickly (famous last words?) Anyway, do see the documentary on Laura Ashley if you want to learn about the original “cottagecore” aesthetic ushered in with the 1980’s . . .