Mary Quant

Mary Quant and models at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967Image courtesy of PA Prints2008

Mary Quant
Victoria and Albert Museum – London
April 6, 2019 – February 16, 2020

From miniskirts and hot pants to vibrant tights and makeup, discover how Mary Quant launched a fashion revolution on the British high street, with over 200 garments and accessories, including unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive. On 6th April 2019, the V&A will open the first international retrospective on the iconic fashion designer Dame Mary Quant. The exhibition will explore the years between 1955 and 1975, when Quant revolutionised the high street, harnessing the youthful spirit of the sixties and new mass production techniques to create a new look for women.

             

Kellie Wilson wearing tie dress by Mary Quant’s Ginger Group.
Image courtesy of Gunnar Larsen

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Quant personified the energy and fun of swinging London; and was a powerful role model for the working woman. Challenging conventions, she popularised the miniskirt, colourful tights, and tailored trousers – encouraging a new age of feminism. The mini skirt would go on to become an icon of the time and spark a new creative scene in London and beyond. Receiving unprecedented access to Dame Mary Quant‘s Archive, as well as drawing on the V&A‘s extensive fashion holdings, which include the largest public collection of Quant garments in the world, the show will bring together over 120 garments as well as accessories, cosmetics, sketches and photographs – the majority of which have never been on display before.
                                            

Mary Quant, photograph by Ronald Dumont, c.1967.
Image courtesy of Ronald Dumont/Stringer/Getty Images

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The beginning of the exhibition will set the scene of post-war London for the opening of Quant’s experimental shop Bazaar, on Chelsea’s King’s Road in 1955. It will show how her designs, often based on schoolgirl pinafores or masculine tailoring, brought an entertaining slant to fashion, soon noticed by fashion editors and newspaper journalists in the burgeoning media of the day. Inspiring young women to rebel against traditional dress worn by their mothers and grandmothers, Quant’s tiny boutique on the King’s Road grew into a wholesale brand available in department stores across the UK
                                         

Model holding a Bazaar bag c.1959
Image courtesy of Mary Quant Archive

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Quant’s success soon hit America, where her designs were made for chain stores and mail order companies. Quant quickly became the woman that made fashion less exclusive and more accessible to a new generation. From small boutique to international label, Quant revolutionised British fashion with energy, flair and rebellion. Mary Quant at the V&A will feature never before seen designs and provide an unrivalled insight into the career of one of Britain’s most revolutionary and important fashion designers.

“Fashion is not frivolous; it is part of being alive today” Mary Quant.
“The whole point of fashion is to make fashionable clothes available to everyone.” Mary Quant.

more. www.vam.ac.uk

Satin mini-dress and shorts by Mary Quant, photograph by Duffy, 1966
Image courtesy of Duffy Archive

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