Mary Quant’s dynamic entry into the world of fashion was totally revolutionary. Her sixties mod appeal grew from the larger cultural rebellion of the 1960s that saw expression in music, art and ‘sexual politics’.
She responded to the youthful desire for simple clothes that allowed for easy movement ‘in which you could run and jump’ – energetic fashion bursting with female fun.
The designs were made accessible to the younger shopper who previously was restricted to fashions of their mothers and older relatives. It was exciting, innovative and symbolised the youth culture of the time.
However, it’s the mini skirt that we associate mostly with Mary Quant who says she called it after her favourite car of the time – the mini. It epitomised the moment. Other innovations followed each reflecting the mood of the times. PVC was adopted to create see-through raincoats and boots, clunky shoes and baby doll dresses, hot pants and the iconic daisy logo all symbolised the generation.
Coloured or natural tights replaced garter belts. Hot pants took the high street by storm. Things were moving up!
Many will remember the iconic Paint Box – a white plastic box with the daisy motif that made make-up desirable fun. More products followed in colours and shimmers never before on offer, each with quirky names. The impact was totally radical.
Mary Quant’s far reaching impact took snobbery out of fashion creating a youthful freedom of expression that changed fashion forever. She said of its wearers: “they are curiously feminine, but their femininity lies in their attitude rather than in their appearance … She enjoys being noticed, but wittily. She is lively – positive – opinionated.”
A retrospective of her work is at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London on show until 16 February 2020.