Twiggy, the miniskirt, hot pants, gender-fluid fashion, PVC rain gear, and easy-to-wear fabrics. We salute and thank you, Dame Barbara Mary Quant Plunket Greene, the beloved fashion icon Mary Quant, for all you have done for women and their fashion sensibilities since the 1950s. Quant, according to the press release, died Thursday peacefully at home in Surrey, United Kingdom.
The style icon liberated a generation of women long into the future with short hems and bold, colorful patterns, with menswear fabrics for feminine silhouettes, with a bravery of innovation that was unique in her era. Her visionary contributions to the “youth quake” of the ’60s included statement-making skirt hems, colorful and bold designs, a makeup line that’s currently still big in Japan, and the forerunner to today’s modern fashion boutique—hers on King’s Road was called Bazaar.
She coined the name of the short skirt in honor of her favorite car, the Mini, and helped popularize the style worldwide with the model de jour, Twiggy.
The iconic British fashion designer, synonymous with the Swinging ’60s, was heralded as the mother of the miniskirt. Some say she invented the style, although Quant has said she wore a short style because she liked simple clothing that allowed the wearer to move with freedom and ease. “I was making clothes which would let you run and dance, and we would make them the length the customer wanted,” she once said. But she also gave credit to “the girls on King’s Road” for inventing the mini.
One thing’s for sure, she coined the name of the short skirt in honor of her favorite car, the Mini, and helped popularize the style worldwide with the model de jour, Twiggy. If Quant didn’t invent the mini, she at least had a hand in marketing it to the masses.
Her legacy didn’t stop at clothing. Even her haircut, a geometric bob created by hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, was a nod to Mod in and of itself. In 1966, Women’s Wear Daily named her a fashion revolutionary, along with the likes of other star designers Andrè Courrèges, Rudi Gernreich, Emanuel Ungaro, Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, and Yves Saint Laurent.
Like a Rolling Stone
Part of the British Invasion (think Beatles and the Rolling Stones), Quant was a “brave innovator,” as noted by fellow British designer Paul Smith, quoted recently in WWD. Quant had associations with British hat company Kangol for colorful berets featuring her daisy logo. Her other collaborations and licenses were numerous, including a 1988 interior redesign of her beloved Mini car, styling the inside with black-and-white striped seats and red trim, the steering wheel adorned with her signature daisy logo, and while the Mary Quant name was not used on the outside of the car, viewers knew who to honor for its look.
Her first boutique on King’s Road made waves with its innovative window displays aimed at younger customers.
Born Feb. 11, 1930 to two schoolteachers, Quant studied art education before segueing into fashion. Her husband and business partner, Alexander Plunket Greene, helped finance her first boutique on King’s Road, making waves with its innovative window displays aimed at younger customers. She worked well into her latter years, only stepping down from her company in the year 2000. This fashion trailblazer leaves a legacy of style, her makeup line, plus licensed household accessories that are still available today.
Fascination with her hasn’t waned; in 2021, she was the subject of English actor Sadie Frost’s documentary simply titled Quant.
When asked in the ’60s by the Guardian newspaper if her clothes could be considered “vulgar” since they were quite revealing, her response was legendary: “Good taste is death, vulgarity is life.”
Here’s to both.