How the fashion icon from the 1960s freed the revolutionary clothing of Mary Quant women

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  1. ITV report

A new major exhibition that celebrates iconic fashion designer Dame Mary
Quant looks at how she revolutionized the way women dressed, reflecting a new era of feminism and freed them from "dressing like their mothers."

The retrospective op The Victoria and Albert Museum in London explores the years between 1955 and 1975 when Quant tore up the fashion rule book and created youthful, more affordable clothing that helped define an era of freedom.

After studying illustration and art education at Goldsmiths College, Quant
opened its first store, Bazaar, on King & # 39; s Road, Chelsea, an area that would help to personify it as the spirit of modern culture and the Swinging 60s.

Mary Quant and models at the launch of Quant Point shoes from 1967. Credit: PA

While the Parisian designers, led by Christian Dior's New Look, dominated the fashion scene, these luxury labels were largely affordable only to wealthy, older women and beyond the reach of most people in a post-war era marked by rationing and austerity.

Quant's designs, on the other hand, were less exclusive and, although not cheap, accessible to a new generation – who would save months to buy one of her dresses – allowing her influence to penetrate outside the high-end fashion range and leave her mark on a fast-growing youth culture.

Received her OBE at Buckingham Palace in one of her own designs. Credit: PA

Quant & # 39; s colorful, energetic and rebellious designs shocked a silted fashion scene in which young women were dressed like their mothers and grandmothers.

Her designs were "anti-establishment and anti-traditionalist" according to co-curator Jenny Lister of the exhibition and were inspired by the growing creative scene in London.

& # 39; She wanted women to preserve the freedom of childhood & # 39 ;, Jenny says about Quant & # 39; s designs, which were often based on school flags.

She also played with masculine clothing, including men's cardigans worn as dresses and fabrics such as tweeds, using ties and cardigans to create a "new sexiness" that, "Jenny says," more comfortable, easy to run around "in than traditional women's clothes of the time.

But it is the miniskirt that defined Quant's career – and an era.

The miniskirt had just as much to do with freeing the woman as with fashion – Quant claimed she wanted a skirt where she could run – and had a generation shake off the limitations of an older generation.

Model Kellie Wilson in tie dress from Mary Quant & Ginger Group. Credit: Gunnar Larsen

Although the claim she invented is controversial, the miniskirt and Quant have become synonymous. The designer has attributed self-rising mat lines to the "girls on the King & # 39; s Road".

When she spoke in 2009, she said: "I made simple, youthful, simple clothing in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we made them to the length that the customer wanted, I wore them very briefly and the customers would say: & # 39; shorter, shorter & # 39 ;. "

The mini skirt was given the name, not after the length of the zoom line, but that other Sixties icon – the Mini car and Quant legacy extends beyond this piece of fashion history.

Mary Quant with Vidal Sassoon. Credit: Ronald Dumont Stringer / Getty Images

Jenny Lister said Quant "turned fashion upside down" and her designs set the tone for London fashion, establishing the rebellious, risky style reputation of the capital known today and paving the way for other pioneering British designers, such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, who followed her footsteps at the art academy.

Her smart business sense and how she used marketing have also left their mark on the modern fashion world. Thanks to social media, visual marketing is becoming increasingly important, says Jenny.

"She had a strong, distinctive style of herself. Women wanted to look like her – she was relatable and authentic."

"And she used her own appearance and logo to make contact with people – she used the logo as a kind of badge."

That's Quant's influence on fashion, it's easy to take her groundbreaking looks for guaranteed, but Jenny says that her designs for that time are & # 39; more provocative than punk & # 39; goods.

Model with a Bazaar bag c.1959. Credit: Mary Quant Archive

"It wasn't about Paris and expensive couture, it was about normal working women," says Jenny.

& # 39; She dressed the freed woman, freed herself from rules and regulations, and dressed like their mothers. & # 39;

Quant is credited with inventing colored and patterned tights, often worn with mini skirts and dresses, and in the 1960s she popularized hot pants.

Quant received an OBE 1966 and accepted the prize at Buckingham Palace in one of her own designs: a mini dress of cream wool with blue accents.

As the decade progressed, Quant's influence extended across the UK, and in 1963 the Mary Quant brand hit the US and mass production continued to meet demand.

Mary Quant at work in London, 1963. Credit: AP

Quant's place in fashion history is now celebrated in her 1980s in the V&A exhibition with clothing lent out by the public after a call from the museum. There are also 60 images sent by the woman wearing their Mary Quant dresses, each accompanied by a note about why the piece was so much to them and what they were doing when they were wearing them, each a personal love letter to a designer whose clothing goes beyond fashion.

Last updated on Wednesday, April 3, 2019

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