Discover Mary Quant

photo of model wearing Satin mini-dress and shorts by Mary Quant, photograph by Duffy, 1966 © Duffy Archive

The V&A museum opens its first retrospective on fashion designer Mary Quant

Mary Quant
Gallery 40, V&A, London
6 April 2019 – 16 February 2020

This month (April) saw the first international retrospective on the iconic fashion designer Dame Mary Quant, open at the V&A. Quant is credited for revolutionising the high street, capturing the youthful spirit of the sixties as well as new mass production techniques to create a new look for women. The exhibition explores this key period, 1955 – 1975, which built the foundation for the fashion industry as we know it today.

‘Fashion is not frivolous; it is part of being alive today’

Mary Quant.
photo of Mary Quant with Vidal Sassoon, photograph by Ronald Dumont, 1964 Ronald DumontStringerGetty Images
Mary Quant with Vidal Sassoon.
Photograph by Ronald Dumont, 1964 Ronald DumontStringerGetty Images

Fashion Revolution

Quant’s designs symbolise the energy and fun of swinging London. They are a powerful role model for the working woman. Challenging conventions, she popularised the miniskirt, colourful tights, and tailored trousers, which in turn encouraged a new age of feminism.

Inspiring young women to rebel against traditional dress worn by their mothers and grandmothers, Quant’s tiny boutique on the King’s Road grew into a wholesale brand available in department stores across the UK. Quant’s success also hit America, where her designs were made for chain stores and mail order companies. Quant quickly became the woman that made fashion less exclusive and more accessible to a new generation.

Mary Quant and models at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967 © PA Prints 2008
Mary Quant and models at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967 © PA Prints 2008

Pieces on Display

The show brings together over 120 garments as well as accessories, cosmetics, sketches and photographs. Some come from Quant’s very own archive with the majority of exhibits never been on display before.

The beginning of the exhibition sets the scene of post-war London for the opening of Quant’s experimental shop Bazaar, on Chelsea’s King’s Road in 1955. It show how her designs, often based on schoolgirl pinafores or masculine tailoring, brought a dimension to fashion. Quant’s designs soon attracted the attention of fashion editors and newspaper journalists.

Photo of Kellie Wilson wearing tie dress by Mary Quant’s Ginger Group. Photograph by Gunnar Larsen, 1966. © Gunnar Larsen
Kellie Wilson wearing tie dress by Mary Quant’s Ginger Group.
Photograph by Gunnar Larsen, 1966. © Gunnar Larsen

From small boutique to international label, Quant revolutionised British fashion with energy, flair and rebellion. Mary Quant at the V&A features never before seen designs and provides an insight into the career of one of Britain’s most revolutionary fashion designers.

#WeWantQuant

Photo of SCV 60s yellow dress with white collar
Yellow minidress with ruffle detail and white collar now in stock at St Cyr Vintage

See the exhibition and shop the look! Come onto our Camden Town shop where our fabulous staff will help you seek out your perfect Mary Quant inspired look. As well as a huge range of sixties inspired sunglasses, we also stock dresses, skirts and accessories.

Don’t forget to upload your St Cyr Vintage looks using the #wearestcyr for your chance to be featured on our Instagram feed and our monthly style blog. The V&A is using its own #wewantquant so don’t forget to include that as well!

photo of SCV sixties inspired outfit miniskirt
Graphic print miniskirt, sleeveless top and sunnies all now in stock at St Cyr Vintage

Words by Emily B

Main image: Satin mini-dress and shorts by Mary Quant, photograph by Duffy, 1966 © Duffy Archive

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