iStyle: Chintz charming

Laura Ashley is celebrating its 60th birthday by looking back to the 1970s. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Patterns, florals and faux Victoriana are big again, says Trish Lorenz

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The Independent Online

The fashion and interiors brand Laura Ashley celebrates its 60th anniversary this month, with the relaunch of some of its most popular designs from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The anniversary comes at a timely moment. Laura Ashley, indelibly associated with the chintz florals and faux Victoriana of the late 1970s and early 1980s, is finding its maximalist take on pattern is back in vogue after the best part of two decades in the fashion wilderness.

Sober and clinical 1950s modernism – now so ubiquitous that you can find blogs mocking elements of the style – is on the way out. Today’s cultural cues are about an entirely different vibe, with the pattern-heavy and playful 1970s making a comeback.

The style isn’t limited to Laura Ashley. Take a look, for instance, at London-based House of Hackney (, which embraces a darker and more gothic take on chintz and PiP Studio (, with its focus on floral designs in contemporary shades.

This modern reinterpretation of the late 1970s has a traditional feel but is far from boring: think country-house style enlivened with vivid colour, clashing patterns and natural textures. To get the look, mix colours such as orange and yellow with bold patterns and calm the mood with more rustic touches such as exposed brick walls and wood floors.

And don’t feel you have to hide your modernist pieces away. As the British historian David Heathcote points out, an ethos of experimentation thrived in the 1970s. “People think in comedy stereotypes about the 1970s – avocado bathroom suites, brown kitchens – but it was a very free period,” he says. “There was none of the doctrinaire adherence to the idea that objects in your home all have to come from one period, it was about experimenting with the past and combining old and new.”