Mary Quant, the iconic British fashion designer put mini skirts on the world fashion map. Mary inspired many a young woman to break out of the traditional mode. She was a powerful role model of feminism. Mary was selling from Myer and George's in Melbourne, and stores worldwide. She was famous for her range of Daisy dolls.
Mary Quant was born in 1930 near Blackheath, south-east London. she grew up amidst post-war austerity and clothes rationing. Mary wanted to be a fashion designer. Her parents wanted her to follow in their footsteps and become a grammar school teacher. As a compromise, she became an art teacher.
She met her future husband, Alexander Plunket Greene, at a fancy dress ball. Plunket Green was a bohemian musician from Chelsea. Quant was working as a couture milliner, but leaned towards the club culture of Chelsea.
She opened her first store in Chelsea, London. Quant replaced the Victorian windows of her store with a modern shopfront. She sold dresses made from fabric bought from Harrods. Within three years she opened her second store across Harrods, in Knightsbridge London
Mary put a stop to debutante' dresses and dresses for formal presentations. She made simple, sleek, modern and carefree shorts leggings miniskirts and knickerbockers. Women from all walks of life wore Mary Quant. The William Morris marigold print she used for her clothes, is an interior designer's delight.
She experimented with v-neck sweaters, pinstripe dresses
pussy bow blouses worn with pinafores, tunics, striped dresses,
waistcoats, fur and tartan coats
Mary was an astute marketeer. She made no apologies for mass production.
Mary made dresses with ties and epaulettes, tunics with bow ties and sleek tracksuits.
She had a fascination for pvc and vinyl. She created the 'wet collection', a range of rainwear and fashion accessories out of pvc. Her raincoats with collars and pockets make a style statement even today.
Her Daisy dolls rivaled barbie.
Mary popularized the platform shoes or the wedges. She fashioned coordinates out of striped jersey. The Manhattan maxi dress or the striped halter dress bear testimony to Mary's genius.
See the Mary Quant Fashion Revolutionary exhibition, at Bendigo Art Gallery Australia. 20 March - 11 July 2021.
A sneak peek into the Mary Quant exhibition: