Xerjoff Magazine

Mary Quant: the Swinging London Queen

Writer

The V&A in London dedicates a major exhibition to Mary Quant’s work. She was the inventor of the miniskirt, and significantly contributed, with her colourful and original clothes, to fashion innovation while favouring women's liberation

By now, we know that Fashion has the ability to bring forward great revolutions in the social and cultural fabric and it’s able to stimulate debate around various themes, from morality to lifestyles.

On this regard, the works of the British designer Mary Quant- to whom the V&A in London (Cromwell Road) dedicates an exhibition- are emblematic. In 1955, at a very young age, after her debut in selling wholesale clothing, Quant opened her first boutique ‘Bazaar’ in London. The boutique, located on the first floor of her home on King’s road in Chelsea was where she sold inexpensive, brightly coloured simple clothes inspired by the Beat Generation aesthetic. These garments were immediate hits with young girls and boys who did not feel at all represented by the too adult and rigorous fashion of the era.

Despite not having any training in fashion design, Mary Quant had fully grasped the spirit of the times so that her Bazaar soon became a point of reference for the young generations of the Swinging London, including the numerous fans of the newly established bands such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. At the end of the Fifties the legendary story of the miniskirt, a garment for which she took credit for, although opinions differ on who invented the abbreviated garment, with also the Parisian stylist André Courrèges claiming its paternity. The exhibition in progress at the V&A, (the first retrospective in the worlddedicated to the designer’s work) puts an accent on the revolutionary contribution provided by Quant to the fashion of the time and to women’s liberation. On display 200 pieces, including mini-skirts, very short dresses, PVC jackets and plastic ankle boots, together with photographs and sketches. All materials that provide an exhaustive picture of the time and highlight the influence exercised by Mary Quant on great designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin.

Curated by Jenny Lister, “Mary Quant” can be visited until March 8th, 2020.

Above: Mary Quant’s Beauty Bus.