Mary Quant, a pioneering fashion designer whose sexy, colorful miniskirts embodied Swinging London in the 1960s and had a profound impact on youth culture worldwide, has passed away. She was 93 years old.
Quant’s family reported that she passed away on Thursday “peacefully at home” in Surrey, southern England.
Quant produced outfits and accessories that were essential to the look, including the innovative tights that went with the miniskirt, which some claim she invented. She designed simple, mix-and-match clothing with a whimsical flair. Some compared her influence on the fashion industry to that of the Beatles on popular music.
Hamish Bowles, international editor at large for American Vogue magazine, said, “I think it was a happy confluence of events, which is really what fashion is really all about.” She was in the ideal situation at the ideal time and had the ideal sensibility. She entered the scene right before the 1960s began.
He claimed that Quant was a shrewd businesswoman who was among the first to recognize the value of positioning oneself as a creative force in order to grow her company and venture into new markets, such as cosmetics.
The “youthquake” that swept the nation in the 1960s came at the ideal time for Quant to profit from it. She believed that the era of upscale salons was coming to an end and that even famous Parisian designers would adopt ready-to-wear trends.
The style she came up with was sexy and frivolous, a stark contrast to the predictable floral day dresses that were frequently worn after the war, when food rationing was still in effect and tight household budgets meant there was little money to spend on one’s appearance.
When Quant first introduced miniskirts with hemlines up to 8 inches above the knee to the London scene in 1966, they shocked and offended a lot of people and became an instant hit with young people.
Although some claim she invented the look, many also give credit to French designer Andre Courreges, whose spring 1964 collection featured minidresses that were well-liked in Paris but had little influence outside of France. Others point to the actress Anne Francis’ short skirts from the 1956 movie “Forbidden Planet” as the first instance of the miniskirt.
Whether or not she was the first to create them, Quant is without a doubt the person who figured out how to popularize the miniskirt.
The skirt was given its name after Quant’s favorite brand of automobile, and she recalled how it gave her a “feeling of freedom and liberation.” She participated in a revolution in fashion from her store on King’s Road in the Chelsea district of London.
“The mini was created by the girls on King’s Road. She stated, “I was making clothing that would allow you to dance and run, and we would make them to the desired length for the customer. Customers would remark, “Shorter, shorter,” as I wore them very short.
Quant used a variety of materials and colors to make miniskirts popular with young women on a budget, in contrast to Courreges, who was trained in the haute couture tradition and whose expensive clothing was intended for a small audience.
She rose to the top of the fashion world at a time when the Rolling Stones and Beatles ruled the music industry, and she will always be associated with the heady freedoms of that era.
The V&A museum, which features some of her work, stated on its official Twitter account on Thursday that “It’s impossible to overstate Quant’s contribution to fashion.” “She gave young women a new role model and embodied the joyous freedom of 1960s fashion. She had such a ground-breaking vision, and it shows in fashion today.
Models like Twiggy and Pattie Boyd, who was at the time married to Beatles guitarist George Harrison, wore the wildly popular clothing.
When asked in 1967 if her clothing could be deemed “vulgar” due to their revealing nature, Quant responded that she loved vulgarity and embraced it.
She added that the provocative poses of her models reflected the new sexual openness of the times, which was fueled by the development of the birth control pill. “Good taste is death, vulgarity is life,” she said. She claimed that the availability of contraceptive pills allowed women to engage in sexual activity and make their own decisions regarding whether to become pregnant.
The daughter of teachers, Quant was born on February 11, 1934, and she studied art education at Goldsmith’s College in London before entering the fashion industry. First, she worked as an apprentice to a hat maker before attempting her own designs.
She founded Bazaar in Chelsea in 1955 with the assistance of her wealthy husband and business partner, Alexander Plunket Greene, and the accountant Archie McNair, initially relying on creative window displays to attract younger customers.
In our shops, you will see duchesses vying for the same dress with typists because snobbery is no longer in style, as Quant once noted. She described the shop as “a sophisticated candy store for grown-ups.”
Her presence there contributed to the neighborhood becoming a popular travel destination. Bazaar became a focal point for the young, the beautiful, and those who wanted to rub shoulders with them. Small cafes, bistros, and pubs all thrived, and additional shops opened, giving Chelsea’s King’s Road the appearance of a never-ending party.
The store was so successful that the owner soon expanded to other areas of London and started selling her clothing in America, where the “British invasion” was in full force.
She was unique in that she frequently posed for her own clothes, looking lovely and naturally assured in her own styles, and frequently had Vidal Sassoon cut her hair in a distinctive, angular bob.
She quickly broadened her interests, creating a well-known makeup line and branching out into kitchenware and home decor.
The makeup was very successful, especially in Japan, where Quant still has a loyal following.
In the late 1960s, Quant is also credited with popularizing hot pants and micro-minis.
In 1966, she was awarded the title of Officer of the British Empire for her contributions to the fashion industry. She accepted the award at Buckingham Palace while donning her signature miniskirt. She received the title of dame in 2014 for contributions to British fashion.
After Mary Quant Ltd. was acquired by a Japanese company in 2000, Quant resigned from day-to-day management but continued to serve as a consultant.
The company maintained one shop in London in addition to roughly 200 shops in Japan, and it continued to use the daisy motif and logo that Quant invented in the 1960s.