Image courtesy of The Advertising Archives
The Victoria & Albert Museum London celebrates the British seamstress, Mary Quant (1934), in a magnificent exhibition of more than 200 pieces.
Clothing, accessories and posters reflect the talent and revolutionary spirit of this stylist from 1955, when she opened her first Bazaar boutique in King’s Road, icon of Swinging London, in 1975, the year of the height of her success.
Mary Quant at her apartment in Draycott Place, Chelsea, London, c.1965
© Keystone-France, Gamma-Keystone, Getty Images
Twiggy - Photograph © Terence Donovan,
courtesy Terence Donovan Archive Iconic Images
Daughter of two Welsh teachers, she leaves her family at 16 to live alone in London, meets her future husband, a descendant of a very well-off family aristocrat, and lives with him a bohemian life until their installation in 1955 in their little cottage in Chelsea. In the basement, they open a restaurant and on the first floor, a second-hand shop where she displays her creations. Designed by Terence Conran, this meeting place is quickly becoming the favored address of London’s youth and international show biz.
Her fashion defies the rules, offering affordable clothing with short, tight and androgynous cuts. The centerpiece is the miniskirt. Added to this icon are apron dresses and incredible colorful plastic raincoats with PVC shoes.
In her fashion shows, as in the shop windows, Mary Quant invites women to free themselves from the dress rules of an era gone by.
Mary Quant and Alexander Plunket Greene, 1963.
© MirrorpixRobert Young
© Victoria and Albert Museum,
Her silhouettes are often simple, reminiscent of modern sportswear, yet incredibly rich in their contrasting colors, geometric shapes and the play of their materials.
Mary Quant had the idea to shorten the length of the skirts by about fifteen centimeters after trying to catch a bus. The designer liked to repeat that she had not invented the miniskirt, but that her creation was up to the girls in the streets of London, protagonists of a pop revolution in a sparkling city that was in constant change.
In the ‘50s, the youth in love with freedom and lightness was identified with the model Twiggy, symbol of modernity and fashion, Mary Quant.
In the mid-1960s, the designer founded the Ginger Group; it offers a cheap fashion for the US market, launches a line of makeup and even draws the interior of the new Mini.
Her waterproof mascara and pop makeup in «paint boxes» color the fashion of a new style to the rhythm of mini dresses, tights and plastic boots. A new woman is born.
Jill Kennington wearing white PVC rain tunic and hat. Photograph by John Cowan, 1963
© Ernestine Carter Archive, Fashion Museum Bath
Image courtesy of Heather Tilbury Phillips
This exhibition is a true journey to the heart of this madly creative London, full of humor in the colors of eternal youth who still dance to the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
Mary Quant and models
at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967
© PA Prints 2008
Mary Quant and Alexander Plunket Greene, photograph by John Cowan, 1960 Courtesy of Terence Pepper CollectionImage © John Cowan Archive