As we team up with Laura Ashley to launch an exclusive collaborative collection, we chat with the designers behind this new range - Victoria Ockwell (Senior Designer, Mamas and Papas) and Helen Ashmore (Head of Design, Laura Ashley) - to discover the secret to creating such a covetable collection.
How did this collabration come about?
Victoria “Laura Ashley has always been close to my heart. I grew up in the 70’s, aspiring to the brand, and it’s been a presence throughout my life - from the bold florals of the 90’s, to the vintage-inspired Noughties! I longed to bring the sense of heritage to a new customer and reawaken their gorgeous hand painted florals for new parents. It wasn’t a case of looking for a collaboration: this felt like a natural joining together of two unique brands. Like any great match we were introduced by a mutual friend and as soon as we started sharing ideas, we knew it would work.”
The collection features prints from Laura Ashley's vast and iconic archives - How did you decide which prints to feature?
Helen “Before meeting the Mamas and Papas team we did a research trip into our archive and spent a few days searching for prints and patterns. We brought over 100 items out of the archive for our first meeting. We then spent hours together reviewing the original drawings and 70’ s swatch books – I think Vic was in heaven! The key prints we chose were Cleavers, Jess, the paisley-inspired Calcot, Nutmeg and Candy Stripe: soft and delicate prints that have a calming feel to them, which is exactly what parents and babies need. It was really important to us both that even though there’s a real ‘mix and match’ feel to the collection that it’s still feel cohesive. I particularly love how Vic has used the prints on the clothing and then replicated them in the toys – it's a sense of twinning on a whole new level!”
Victoria “The range includes our best-selling pushchair Ocarro, beautiful interior pieces for the nursery, toys and clothing, so we needed to create a language that flowed throughout the collection. Our packaging features Cleavers, which is a vintage floral, which also looks amazing in our sailor-collar romper.”
You re-worked and re-coloured these prints to revive them for 2023 - how did you decide which colours to use?
Victoria “At Mamas and Papas colour selection is always inspired by the natural world around us: muted pastels or earthy tones. You’ll never find vivid brights here! Our look is subtle and influenced by the connection to the world around us - in the same way Laura Ashley may have sat dreaming of her next collection looking out over the rolling Welsh hills!
Helen “Naturalistic tones and botanical flora and fauna inspire the Laura Ashley team every day and form the brand’s DNA, just as it inspired Laura seventy years ago. What Vic has done with the colours for this collection is a really modern refreshing update on our heritage prints. Plus, this colour palette is beautifully calming for new families.”
What sets this collection apart?
Victoria “At Mamas and Papas we’re known for our attention to detail and these new collaboration pieces are no exception. The Ocarro, for example, uses vintage-inspired detailing, such as frill; retro cut and sew; layered quilting and embossing. The clothing and interiors reflect this too- plenty of frills, quilting detail and subtle embroideries and branding.”
Helen “Laura Ashley’s brand is built on quality products - Laura Ashley famously said ‘’ I don’t like ephemeral things, I like things that last forever…’ so it was really important to us that the fabrics we used felt really special. Printing our patterns on textured dobby fabrics, with the little clipped pom pom details, created an extra layer of interest to all of these pieces. They feel like little heirloom pieces waiting to be worn and to be shared and handed down to future generations to come!”
Which pieces would you snap up?
Victoria “For me, it has to be the Ragdolls. I love Poppy, with her Calcot print dress and gorgeous red plaits. I love that you can buy a dress for your newborn to match - which little girl, or parent, wouldn’t love that? She even comes with a spare dress in her shopping bag!”
Helen “The patchwork quilt from the interiors collection. It really feels like a hero piece in the collection. it represents the stories of the two brands, with the mixture of prints and beautiful floral embroidery. I love it so much I even tried to get the team to make this in adult bedding size, so we could it in our main collection too!”
Finally, what's next for Mamas & Papas and Laura Ashley?
Victoria “We’re already developing the new Autumn Winter collection. I can’t wait to share where we’re taking it. I can promise even more frills, more luscious blooms (and fruit) and plenty of new pieces you’ll want to cherish!”
Helen “There’s still more to come, with even more patchwork! Honestly, I just want to wear them all myself. The partnership is a perfect match so it only makes sense to continue growing the collection.”