In London, the prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum is receiving the biggest exhibition ever organised about Mary Quant, the British designer who shoved fashion in the 60's. Named "We want Quant", the retrospective redraws fashion history through MQ's work, boldness & fashion sparkle.
So beyond the mini skirt & tights revolution, we will talk about MQ's vision, values and what her work brought to Intimate world ! Let's see what swinging London handed down to modern fashion ?
We can say that Mary Quant became a queen of contemporary fashion in a sober "Smoke city" ! Today, the company is still existing and is focusing on Mary Quant's last line of beauty products.
"The whole point of fashion is to make fashionable clothes available to everyone." Mary Quant
BACK IN THE 60'S
Dame Barbara Mary Quant was born in 1930 and in the 60's she became a legend of fashion participating to the MOD subculture, a modern fashion and music wave created to awake the conservative post WW2 art scene ! At this time, Fashion is beginning to open itself to RTW and to fancy designers such as Sonia Rykiel or the brand Biba founded by Barbara Hulanicki.
MQ grew up as a leader on the market when in 1955 with Alexander Plunket Greene, her bussiness partner & husband, she opened the first shop called "Bazaar". Her strong sens of freedom, boldness & innovation led her to a unique vision of women fashion for few decades ! The windows of Bazaar were so appealing that international magazine were taking inspiration from it, when travelling to London !
Left Pic : Alexander Plunket Greene and Mary Quant at Bazaar in 1955.
Right Pic : Time's magazine cover in April 1955 when the term " Swinging London" is in a full swing with the beatles mania !
Among her stroke of genius, she used knitwear to make easy, youthful & simple clothes, in which we could move and jump, she would make them the length the customer wanted, until it became the "mini". She also twisted uniforms and gentlemen's clothes to sophisticated and feminine designs. When in 1966, she received the pretigious OBE award (Order of the British Empire), for her outstanding contribution to the fashion industry, she went to meet the Queen Elisabeth II dressed in a white and navy short dress, a daring outfit that is still remembered today !
Dresses inspired by the british army's uniform exhibited at V&A
From left to right : mini dresses, the outfit that Mary Quant designed to received OBE .
WHAT DID SHE BRING TO LINGERIE ?
In the vision of Mary Quant corporate, supporting women emancipation was a key value, thus she used modern technologies, fabrics innovation of knitwear and colors, as DNA to popularized RTW and to remove women fetters to move easily, to drive or to run to catch up a bus. Indeed, when she came out with the tights, the lingerie sets and the beauty products, she wanted to create a universal kit for women: to express their freedom and their desire of modernity. She followed the path of Gabrielle Chanel, who designed revolutionary women's wear in the 20's, using knit & men's swimsuit inspiration to adapt to the new lifestyle of outwear practices. Mary Quant is gathering history of fashion and innovation to a modern & international wardrobe, matching the baby boom way of life !
Lingerie set, long brief and tighs came to complete the lines as if nobody could stopped her !
Outfits & advertising at V&A
From left to right : Lingerie from the 70's, the ancestor of shapewear, a adverstising for the tights and shoes showing Mary Quant's daisy, the logo which is still used today.
"As I love breaking down barriers all this was great fun. Quite soon this collection was promoted as 'underwear as outerwear' and vice versa."
Quant by Quant, 1966
She also borrowed "babygro" to childwear range, reflecting her desire to hold on to the freedoms of childhood and not conform to the restrictions and rules of adult life. Quant's experiments with loungewear can be seen as the forerunner to the contemporary 'onesize'.
Today thanks to her famous 70's style, wondefully personnified by the model Twiggy, Mary Quant style is still influencing trends and fashion ...
Here some store check for SS19:
From left to right : A Mary Quant campaign with Twiggy in the 70's, SS 19 collection SIYU the spanish label sold at Le Bon Marché Paris, SS19 Asceno at Le Bon Marché Paris, SS19 Sarah & Sorrentino at Liberty london, SS20 Jacquemus collection presentented in june 2019, for the 10th anniversary show of the brand.
"MARY QUANT revolutioned the high street with her playful designs for a younger generation, from hot pants, daring minis and trousers for women, to tights and bold make up styles"
V&A exhibition curator.
Mary Quant designs were on time at the perfect place, being a combinaison of balance influence and sassy talent : influence is often a matter of notoriety, when talent is linked to the right vision at the right time ! We could sum up Mary Quant to a mini skirt and to a bob hair cut, but her love for women and for drawing, combined to her husband's skills of highlighting her vision, gave birth to the first advangarde brand designed by a women in UK, this extra constrasting conservative country...
What if somehow Mary Quant was the gentle "foremother" of #futureisfemale ?
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