Sarah Rowe Takes New Approach to Laura Ashley Look

April 8th, 2011 by Wordpress Administrator
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Sarah Rowe

Laura Ashley is an unexpected Masters of Design choice for a designer who describes Rock & Roll/Punk style as some of her earliest fashion influences.

“I wanted to do something that was less obvious,” explained CCAD senior Sarah Rowe. “I wanted to push myself, and I felt that Laura Ashley was a totally untapped resource. She’s slightly looked over for being a little old-fashioned. I liked the challenge of reinventing her name into something young and bright.”

Ashley is almost as well known for her interior designs as her fashion work. She began her business at home making scarves, tea towels, table mats, aprons and the like. She designed the prints and her husband printed them on a machine he had created.

Laura Ashley showing swatches for her fabric designs.

The 19th-century influence on her designs is easily seen in everything from her dresses to her wallpaper. High necks, full sleeves and ruffles are hallmarks of her fashion designs, and her soft floral prints are, perhaps, the most widely known look associated with the Laura Ashley name.

Sarah pulled in ruffles and pops of color in reference to Ashley, but she countered the sweetness of her looks with subtle, edgier elements—e.g. a little hint of midriff showing between cream denim pants and a ruffled summer top and a very mini dress over bicycle-style shorts.

Eschewing the obvious floral, Sarah instead brought in polka-dot prints—which Ashley only occasionally used. While Ashley’s looks seem to be either for someone more mature or very, very young, Sarah’s collection is more teen friendly.

Sarah did a lot of sketching and planning before building her collection.

“My collection is bright and youthful with a punch of sportswear in easy daytime designs,” she described. “The fabrics are light with pops of color and with simple closures for a girl on the go. The pieces look simple and are worn with ease but tiny details are what makes them so special.”

Sarah is proud of the construction on her garments, taking special care that the stitching on each piece was exact.

“I want my work to be that perfect,” she emphasized.

It wasn’t construction or technique that challenged Sarah, who has been sewing since she was a teen. For her, being able to stay focused on a few looks with one theme, one collection, for an entire year was the challenge. She noted that shorter assignments in other classes were helpful because they gave her a creative break.

Sarah is now making cloth purses to go with her looks.

Like many designers, Sarah also spent the year developing the ability to edit her own work. Some of her initial concepts were more complicated then they needed to be, but feedback from instructors helped her adjust and make changes that simplified her process.

Sarah spent the summer sketching ideas and by the time she started fall semester had a wealth of concepts to pull from. In the end it boils down to four meticulously constructed looks for her final collection, two of which will come down the runway on May 13.

Tickets to the event are available at

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The CCAD Fashion Show is an annual fundraising event that showcases the talent of graduating Columbus College of Art & Design Fashion Design Seniors. This popular event sells out every year and this blog is a portal through which to view the behind-the-scenes goings on.

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6 Responses to “Sarah Rowe Takes New Approach to Laura Ashley Look”

  1. Jeanne says:

    Your going to be a great designer. I can’t wait to see your design’s come down the runway.

  2. Dee says:

    You will be the best, your design’s are terrific.

  3. MOM says:


  4. Auntie Kathy says:

    Great Job Sarah I am so proud of you and your hard work..Good Luck!

  5. little sis katie says:

    your the bestest sister anyone could ask for! i couldnt be any more happy for you!! your finally doing it sis and i cant wait to see how far you go in life!! i love you so much and im so proud to be your sister :)

  6. brandon says:

    I cant express how proud of you i am! I dont know anybody that works as hard as you or puts in that extra bit..ive watched you grow to this point and im glad that ive been able to be there from the very beginning!