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Laura Ashley London aims higher

Thomas Russell, Michele SanFilippo -- Home Textiles Today, March 26, 2004

Following the launch of the casual Laura Ashley Lifestyles at Kohl's, Revman International has unveiled Laura Ashley London, a more upscale version of the brand for specialty and department stores that features a wider range of fabrications and decorator details with five new bed patterns.

The line has sheeting, comforters, duvet covers, decorative pillows, window and accessories.

Laura Ashley London features high-quality designs for a modern yet romantic look with clean lines and tailored details. It takes classic elements of Laura Ashley and combines them to feel much more contemporary. The collection uses linen, cotton, poly silk, jacquards and damask for a luxurious approach to the lifestyle.

Price points, for example, will be $149.99 for 400-count sateen queen sheet sets with hemstitching and $329.99 for a queen comforter set — slightly higher than the current Laura Ashley line .

"It's a marked departure from where we've been with Laura Ashley," said Diane Piemonte, vice president of creative services at Revman.

Laura Ashley London has a casual elegant aesthetic and isn't as print-driven, she said. The older program, which is $119.99 for a queen sheet set and $279.99 for a queen comforter set, will continue at retail, although Revman will no longer feed new designs into it.

According to Rich Roman, Revman's president and CEO, the change was long overdue. "We'll always have a middle in terms of price and product level, but it is very difficult to market in today's environment, which is why we are focusing our efforts on a casual everyday look as well as an upscale designer brand," said Roman.

The new patterns for market include Casual Elegance, Garden Trellis, Lavender Sachet, Fresh Flowers and City Blossom. Casual Elegance is a classic damask master bedroom look that combines vintage wallpaper florals with pleated linen and poly dupioni.

Garden Trellis represents a classic floral with pale yellow roses on a soft aqua slub-cloth base with a pleated mitered stripe along the edge of the comforter. Lavender Sachet is a pieced contemporary look of white organdy and linen with a satin ribbon border in hues of lavender and lilac.

Inspired by the London flower market, Fresh Flowers features a solid-color diamond-quilted top of bed with applique flowers bordered by a wave miter available in ivy green, daffodil yellow or hydrangea blue. Sheeting is done to mix and match with a floral printed option or solid-color sheets featuring hemstitching and chenille floral embroidery in a contrasting color. City Blossom puts a new spin on pink with applique floral prints in the shape of roses against a linen cotton charcoal backdrop.

"The brand has good recognition with consumers," added Elizabeth McNulty, a Revman design consultant. "They have an affinity for classic Laura Ashley, so we wanted to readdress it for a new fashion sensibility."

The brand's new logo and packaging will call attention to the products' higher level of quality while presenting a sophisticated European look.

Laura Ashley London will embrace comfort and style, a lifestyle reflective of London, the cosmopolitan city where the brand gets its roots.

"There is a lot more synergy between the core brand and its London roots now," said Piemonte. "London is a very happening place in the design world again, and this brand is a part of that movement."

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