Bloomsbury Fashion Central - Tributes
Mary Quant Tribute

Dress by Mary Quant from the Victoria & Albert Museum

We have been saddened to hear of the passing of the legendary fashion designer Dame Mary Quant.

Mary Quant defined London in the ‘swinging sixties’, designing high hemlines, miniskirts and hot pants that launched a fashion revolution.

Quant attended Goldsmiths College in London, where she studied illustration and design. After graduation, she began an apprenticeship at a high-end milliner, Erik of Brook Street. During this time, she became interested in designing her own clothes, and in 1955, she opened her first boutique, Bazaar, on the King's Road in London.

At Bazaar, Quant sold her own designs, in addition to the clothing and accessories from her art-student friends. Her designs were eccentric and playful, with the bright colors and bold patterns satisfying her young customer base who were on the hunt for unique clothing at reasonable prices. The store caused a sensation and she quickly gained a reputation as a trendsetter.

Quant was an early ambassador of ‘above the knee’ skirts, with the miniskirt introduced into her store in the early 1960s. Her designs were inspired by an emerging London street style, forging a ‘youthquake’ movement that pioneered youth culture and challenged the dominance of Paris couture as the fashion authority. She also popularized other styles such as hot pants, PVC raincoats, and tights in daring patterns. Her designs were worn by many famous celebrities of the time, including Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton.

Her signature hairstyle, the ‘Mary Quant bob’, was seen as a symbol of freedom and independence, eliminating the hours spent setting and styling the hair. It became a key part of the fashion revolution that was taking place in the 1960s. Created by Vidal Sassoon, the short, sleek haircut was beloved by Quant as it was both chic and practical. The popularity of the bob remains, with its timeless nature a testament to Quant's enduring influence on fashion and style.

Through the 1970s and 1980s, she expanded to household goods and makeup. Her makeup line was equally innovative and daring, aimed at the young and fashionable who were looking for a new and exciting ways to express themselves.

You can read more about Mary Quant’s life and work in the links below, which we have opened:

"The whole point of fashion is to make fashionable clothes available to everyone." Mary Quant

"Innocent and tough, she attacked the whole rigid structure of the rag trade and won hands down and skirts up." George Melly, 1970

Image credit: Dress. V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London.