Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Besides the mini-skirt (Quant's skirt designs had been getting shorter since around 1958-she wanted women to be able to easily move around and run in them. Quant is often credited with creating the colored and patterned tights that were worn with the mini, but these are also attributed to the noted designer Cristobal Balnenciaga.

 (Patterned 1960's tights)

Among her numerous designs were vinyl boots (she’s credited with creating white “go-go boots”, but I think she helped to make them popular. I believe Andre Courreges created these. Or perhaps both designers created these separately?), dresses with strong colors and striking geometric designs, the “wet” look, the extremely short micro-mini (Men everywhere should thank this woman!), plastic raincoats, white, knee-high, lace-up boots, tight, skinny sweaters in stripes and bold checks. 
Mary Quant was one of the most famous fashion designers of the 1960s; her best-known creation was the mini-skirt. (Accounts vary on who really invented this, for there were actually several designers who came up with the idea, including Andre Courreges - he's most famous for the "color block" style dresses. But Quant DID make the mini-skirt a worldwide sensation.)

(mini cooper)

After studying illustration at art school, Quant worked for a couture milliner; she would often spend three days stitching a hat for one customer.

It was while working here that the young designer decided that fashion should also exist for her peers and everyone, not just the privileged few.

(Mary Quant mini skirt)

With this in mind, Quant opened the London boutique, Bazaar, in 1955 (Quant herself had no previous formal business training or prior experience
in selling clothes. Boyfriend-later-husband Alexander Plunkett-Green and accountant Archie McNair, who also knew nothing about selling clothes, financed the shop jointly. But the trio knew fashion, and everything clicked into place. In the first week, the shop did five times the amount of business expected!)

The first best-sellers were small white plastic collars to brighten up black dresses or sweaters. These sold for the equivalent of 30 cents each. Black
stretch stockings were also a popular item.

Quant attempted to find new and interesting items for the shop, but as a buyer, she wasn't satisfied with the range of clothes available to her. This led to the decision to design and manufacture her own (This was also fueled in part to the positive reaction of a pair of "mad house pajamas" designed for the boutique opening by Quant. The pajamas were featured in Harpers Bazaar and then picked up by an American manufacturer to copy. Quant was on her way.)

The budding designer soon expanded from working solo to having a few machinists; by 1966, Quant was working with 18 different manufacturers.


Some early experimental designs included balloon style dresses and knickerbockers. Large spots and checks were mixed. In the early 60s she designed the first range of coordinates in England with items such as sleeveless dresses and pinafore dresses featuring unusual color combinations.

The store's success led to the opening of a second Bazaar shop in 1961(This was also successful.) Quant decided to go wholesale, the only way to keep prices down to an accessible level for the mass market. 

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Pubic Hair !!!?

At the height of Quant's career, she pridicted that pubic hair would be a fashion statement in the 1970's. The idea was soon rejected but knowone actually denied the possibility of it happening.In 1967  the height of Twigy's fame Quant said “Suddenly every girl with a hope of getting away with it is aiming to look not only under voting age, but under the age of consent.”

In the late 60's Quant's last big fashion design was the hot pant, very short lived so in the 1970's and 80's she moved her designs onto other areas including household goods and make-up.

(Fashion model Twiggy)

Paint Box

Quant Cosmetics
 ( Quant cosmetics)
She developed the “paint box” make-up of 1966. Also in June of this year, Quant received an OBE (Order of the British Empire medal) from Queen Elizabeth II for her outstanding contributions to the fashion industry (She attended the ceremony wearing a mini and cut-away gloves!). A Mary Quant fashion show, even a window display, became an event or a “happening”.

Her cosmetics line was also launched this year, and recognizable by the familiar daisy logo, Quant cosmetics were an international success. Later taken over by Max Factor, they were retailed in 90 countries. Additionally, she experimented with new materials including PVC and nylon, to create outerwear, shoes, tights, and swimwear.

Britain's On The International Fashion Map

The lead in bringing this about was given by Mary Quant, her name is synonymous with 1960s fashion. By 1966 Quant's designs initiated a look for the newly emerging teen-and-twenties market enabling young women to establish their own identity and put Britain on the international fashion map. London girls who were not much older than herself couldn’t wait to purchase Quant's new daring short mini skirt. It was believed that the trend took off so well because of it being so different only the youth could pull it off without any controversy particularly amongst adults.

Quant did not study fashion; following parental advice she enrolled in an Art Teacher's Diploma course at Goldsmith's College, London University, but she was not committed to teaching. In the evenings she went to pattern cutting classes. Her fashion career began in 1955, in the workrooms of the London milliner, Erik, the same year she opened her boutique, Bazaar in King's Road, Chelsea, in partnership with her future husband, Alexander Plunket-Greene. 
( Quant's boutique Bazaar)

The idea was to give the so-called Chelsea Set "a bouillabaisse of clothes and accessories." Quant was the buyer, but she soon found the kinds of clothes she wanted were not available. The solution was obvious, but not easy—21 years old, with little fashion experience, Quant started manufacturing from her home. Using revamped Butterick patterns and fabrics bought retail at Harrods, 
( Butterick patterns )
she created a look for the Chelsea girl. Her customers were hardly younger than herself and she knew what they wanted; her ideas took off in a big way, on both sides of the Atlantic. She brought her materails over the counter at Harrords because she didnt even know that they could be obtained wholesale. She had to sell one day's output of dresses, made in her bedsitter by a few sewing women with few hastily-acquired machines all against the regulations, but that was another thing she didnt know, before she could by the next day's materials. 
Americans loved the London Look, so much so that in 1957 Quant signed a contract with J.C. Penney to create clothes and underwear for the wholesale market. American coordinates convinced her that separates were versatile and ideal for the young. To reach more of the British market in 1958 she launched the Ginger Group, a mass-produced version of the look, with U.S. manufacturer Steinberg's. In the same year she was nominated as Woman of the Year in Britain and the Sunday Times in London gave her its International Fashion award.


It wasnt until 1963, Vogues first took note of Quant's designs, whuch was long after many of them had already been successfully sold. For example in 1960 the straight, sleeveless tunic with an atteched tiny, pleated skirt which was only thirty centimeters in length, the mini-length "Tent" dress and the short "Rex Harrison" cardigan dress made of Shetland tweed.

 The "Schoolgirl" and "Good Girl"looks created by Quant or more known as the "Lolita" necessitated new materials and accessories, including PVC to achieve a wet look for her raincoats. She created many new decorative patterns, such as her childlike daisy design which still remains the logo for Mary Quant today. Not only promoted a new hair stlye, a geometrical cut, flexibal that could be blown dry but also giving satchels long straps as aposed to the ladylike hand bags. The mini skirt also called for new underwear, from bodystockings, pantie gridles, tights, pantyhose, and the push up bra and suspender belt did not have a chance.

(Twiggy in one of Quant's designs)

One Of The Greatest Fashion Revolutions

The tunic, is based on a tradtional garemnet original worn by Ancient Greeks and Romans. For centuries men wore this together with leggings or tights as thier working attire. In the 1950s, however when it appeared as women's wear, in the shape of the miniskirt, it was seen as an outrage. This was because it was exposing the female body to some extent. Quant rebelled and started her own designs to get away from the stuffy teenage fashions of the 1950s. Her clothes were comfortable, loose smocks without bodices, petticoats or frills.