Growing up in the ’90s meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Fashion, music, pop culture all rapidly jumped from one hot topic to the next; present day excluded it was the first decade where all of styles and ideas of preceding muddled to create an odd sort of cultural melting pot. Style of the 90s had an emphasis on nostalgia; you could channel anything and anyone from any time.
There was nothing precisely distinct about the 1990s but you kinda know it when you see it, especially now as we are seeing a resurgence of 90s fashion appearing and feverish feelings of nostalgia are ultra-present.
For me, British textile designer Laura Ashley epitomized nostalgia for my ’90s childhood. As a child who perpetually looked to other eras for comfort, Laura Ashley padded my overly active imagination with daydreams of frolicking through flowered meadows at dusk, enjoying a leisurely picnic under an apple tree, and dipping my toes into a cool stream while reciting poetry to no one in particular. My already romance-addled mind was absolutely intoxicated by Sunday night episodes of Road to Avonlea, thumbing through the American Girl doll catalogue (picking out my dream pair of high-button black boots)and visits to our local Laura Ashley shop.
I remember spending hours with my Mom in the Laura Ashley boutique, considering toile after toile, trying on so many beautiful dresses, straw hats and imagining my fantasy life in which I’d wear them all the time. My Mom, who in modern day would be the ultimate Pinterest/Instagram Mom, captured so many great photographs of myself living out my fantasy in our lush plant-filled front yard. In my opinion, some of the photos sum up my inner self more than any other photo taken since. Also an avid sewer, my Mom purchased their fabrics and made my room so beautiful and magical; totally fit for someone who was able to escape into literature (Laura Ingalls anyone?) for hours and hours, while of course, wearing a frock.
When I saw that Laura Ashley had collaborated with Urban Outfitters on an Exclusive Collection, my head was instantaneously filled with near-psychedelic images toile and floral. I asked my mom to dig up some of the photos she had taken of me in all of my floral-dress glory. I find it awe-inspiring and confusing how things have come full circle; even more mind-boggling is the fact that I’ve even considered buying one of the UO capsule pieces.
Whether you wore Laura Ashley in your youth, or are considering adding the soft, dream-like pieces from UO to your current wardrobe, one thing definitely remains the same: fashion is a beautiful escape from real life.