With the passing of 60’s icon Mary Quant, we reflect on her life, work and how she influenced fashion today.

Mary Quant: Picture courtesy of Twiggy Lawson/Instagram

Born in 1930 in South East London, she found great freedom during a time of despair after being evacuated to Kent during World War II. This generational experience caused a need for revolution, and Quant delivered. After graduating from Goldsmiths College in the early 50s with a diploma in art education, her work started as an apprentice in a millinery shop in Mayfair.

It was then in 1955 that Bazaar opened in Chelsea with business partners accountant Archie McNair and husband Alexander Plunket Greene. Chelsea was becoming an increasingly up-and-coming area, eventually becoming the centre of 1960s London’s social scene making the Bazaar boutique a hotspot which attracted many famous faces such as the Beatles.

Bazaar Boutique: Picture courtesy of Minimoderns/Instagram

With Quant’s struggles sourcing clothes that fit her tastes, she went on to design and sew her clothing, which involved late nights creating pieces to sell the following day.

After the initial struggles, Quant sold in 150 stores across the UK and stores in the USA, Europe and Asia, becoming a household name.

Quant is known as the pioneer of the miniskirt; this trend rapidly redefined modesty and femininity as it challenged traditional notions in Britain. It led to a fashion rebellion, along with popularising trousers for women. The brands shown through models such as Twiggy Lawson and Pattie Boyd encouraged women to seek this newfound sense of freedom; the influence of this era is still present today.

Pattie Boyd and George Harrison in their Quant wedding coats: Picture courtesy of Pattie Boyd/Instagram

Quant then challenged the typical clothing structure, opting for more comfortable and obscure styles. Adding coloured tights to accompany the short skirts allowed for comfort and the ability to express yourself, which proved popular with the baby boom generation, now in their teens, looking for new styles.

From clothing, Quant moved on to other avenues as she progressed in her career. During the ’70s and ’80s, she started her cosmetics company and designed household goods.

Poster campaign: Picture courtesy of Mary Quant Europe/Instagram

Quant paved the way for women in fashion and changed the trajectory of the clothing we see today.

Related Posts