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  • mary_quant_exhibition_v&a_london
  • mary_quant_exhibition_v&a_london
  • mary_quant_exhibition_v&a_london
Kellie Wilson wearing tie dress by Mary Quant’s Ginger Group. Photograph by Gunnar Larsen, 1966. © Gunnar Larsen
Mary Quant and models at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967 © PA Prints 2008
The Mary Quant Beauty bus, 1971 © INTERFOTO Alamy Stock Photo.jpg

    Mary Quant at the V&A - From the Mini Skirt To Hot Pants

    18 September 2019

    London,

    By Anna Herring @anna.herring

    Mary Quant, alongside the Beatles, is arguably one of the defining aspects of 1960s Britain. The Beatles transformed music, Mary Quant transformed fashion; not only in Britain but across the rest of the world. Tights, the miniskirt, waterproof mascara and the birth of androgynous fashion can all be credited to Quant and the fashion evolution that she began. This exhibition at the V&A dedicated to Quant’s life and brand highlights that there will never be another like her, her work was revolutionary, its legacy continues to inspire and excite to this day.

    One of Britain’s best and most influential designers, Mary Quant created the young, carefree, lively look of the 60s. Her brand has become one of the most significant cultural aspects of post-war Britain. Quant was a role model for women at that time, she was not only a successful designer but also a powerful business women too. She began her brand with Bazaar, her innovative boutique, on the King’s Road in Chelsea in 1955; by the time the 1970s came around she had created the international Mary Quant brand that so many of us are familiar with today. Quant evolved the fashion industry and as the exhibition highlights challenged “the dominance of Parisian couture and establishing London as the new centre of style”. With Mary Quant the Mod look went global. 

    Part of the success of Mary Quant can be accredited to the culture of young people at the time. Their growing affluence and increased social mobility meant the youth of the 60s had more income at their disposal. Shopping changed from a luxury to a leisure. The bold lettering and iconic daisy logo of Quant’s brand all greatly contributed to the popularity of her brand allowing her to develop a dedicated following amongst young women. She redeveloped designs traditionally meant for men into women’s garments, her designs emphasised the satirical, anti-establishment aspects of 1960s society and mocked traditional British institutions and attitudes. Quant’s unique, original, “British cool” look also greatly appealed to Americans when she launched her brand there in 1960. By 1967, Mary Quant was at the height of her popularity owing to her stateside success.

    The exhibition emphasises Quant’s sense of innovation as well as aesthetics. She is probably most famous for designing the miniskirt, tights and waterproof mascara. The miniskirt initially caused outrage amongst the older generations however, it was eventually accepted by society becoming one of the defining aspects of women’s liberation and the “London look”. The gloss and allure of Mary Quant is as relevant today as it was then, it continues to inspire designers and consumers alike. While visiting the exhibition one lady excitedly told me of her intention to buy some Mary Quant socks that she would wear along with her Salvatore Ferragamo loafers thus proving the timelessness and enduring legacy of the brand. Even I, upon exiting the exhibition, wanted to completely redesign my wardrobe and fill it with Quant-inspired clothes owing to the continual allure of the brand. As Quant herself said “the whole point of fashion is to make fashionable clothes available to everyone”. 

    Overall, the exhibition offered a fabulous retrospective of Mary Quant’s brand and designs. As ever, the exhibition and curation creatively and effectively represents the essence and originality of the brand; offering the audience the context of the brand amongst the wider cultural landscape. Once again, the V&A is offering an engaging, exciting exhibition and one that I would highly recommend visiting.

    Mary Quant is on now at the V&A Museum, London until 16 February 2020. 


    Credits

    vam.ac.uk

    Images courtesy of V&A.



     
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