Mary Quant, the British designer who revolutionized fashion and epitomized the style of the swinging 60s, the playful spirit of youth that emanated from the streets, not the Paris atelier, died Thursday at her home in Surrey, southern England. Known as the mother of the mini skirt, she was 93 years old.
Her family announced her death in a statement.
England was emerging from its post-war privations when Mrs. Quandt and her aristocratic friend Alexander Plunkett Green, both out of art school, opened a shop called BAZAAR on London’s Kings Street, in the heart of Chelsea, in 1955. Mrs. Quandt filled it with clothes that she and her bohemian friends wore , “a collection of clothes and accessories,” she wrote in her autobiography, “Quant on Quant” (1966)—miniskirts and pleated skirts, knee-highs and stockings, funky jewelry and hats in all colors.
Young women of the time were turning their backs on their mother’s corset shapes, with split waists and boat-neck bodices—the Dior look, which had dominated since 1947. They despised establishment uniforms—signifiers of class and age affixed to polished hair helmets, twin sets and stilettos, and matching accessories— The model who was usually in her thirties, not a young toy like Ms. Quandt.
When she couldn’t find the pieces she wanted, Mrs. Quandt made her own, buying fabrics from luxury retailer Harrods and sewing them into her bed, which her Siamese cats used to eat the patterns Patrick worked from.
Profits were elusive in those early years, but the shop was a success from the start, with young women stripping the place almost daily, sometimes taking new clothes from Mrs. Quandt’s arms as she went to the shop. She and Mr. Plunkett Green ran it like the coffeehouses they frequented: as a hangout and party at all times, with a jazz background.
And they put on a display in their window, too, with mannequins designed by a friend to look like the young women who shopped there — “birds,” as Ms. Quandt puts it, using the language of the era — figures with sharp cheekbones, modern haircuts and outrageous legs, sometimes turning upside down. On heels or splashed white, some with bald heads and round sunglasses, they wear striped bathing suits and strumming guitars.
Amateurs in accounting, along with everything else, the couple stored their bills in stacks, paying from top to bottom. Sellers often paid twice, or not at all, depending on their place in the pile.
A decade later, Mary Quant is a global brand, with licenses all over the world—she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1966 for her contribution to British exports—and sales that would soon reach $20 million. When she toured the US with a new set, she was greeted like the Fifth Beatle; At one point she asked for police protection. Newspapers eagerly printed her and her remarks: “Quantity expects hem higher,” the Associated Press declared in the winter of 1966, adding that Ms. Quandt “predicted today that the miniskirt would stay here.”
There was a Mary Quant line at JC Penney and boutiques in New York stores. There was mary quant makeup – for women and Men – packaged in cans of paint, eyelashes that can be bought in the yard, underwear, stockings, shoes, outerwear and furs. By the 1970s there were sheets, stationery, paint, household items, and a Mary Quant doll, Daisy, named after Mrs. Quant’s Daisy logo.
“A celebrity designer is an accepted part of today’s modern fashion system, but Mary was a rarity in the 1960s as a brand ambassador for her clothing and her brand,” Jenny Lister, co-curator of a 2019 retrospective of Ms. The work is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, he told the New York Times. “It didn’t just sell quirky British fashion, it actually He was Quirky British gorgeous, and the ultimate Chelsea girl.”
Mrs. Kwan once said: “I have grown up and do not want to grow up.” “Growing up seemed horrible. To me, it was horrible. The children were free and sane, and the adults were horrible.”
Barbara Marie Quant was born on 11 February 1930 in Blackheath, south-east London. Her parents, John and Mildred (Jones) Quandt, were Welsh educators who came from mining families and were determined that their two children, Mary and Tony, should follow traditional career paths.
But Marie wanted to study fashion. When she won a scholarship to the art-focused Goldsmiths College (now Goldsmiths, University of London), her parents came to a compromise: She could attend if she earned her degree in art education (she studied illustration). There, she met Mr. Plunkett Green, a well-bred eccentric (the philosopher Bertrand Russell was his cousin, as was the Duke of Bedford) who wore his mother’s golden shantung silk pajamas to come to her on the rare occasions he attended and played jazz on her. Trumpet – A character directly inspired by the novel by Evelyn Waugh (Waugh was a family friend).
They were both 16 years old, and they became inseparable. They rejoiced at the pranks and the attention they paid to their costumes. Mr. Plunkett Green once painted his bare chest to mimic the buttons on a dress shirt. Mrs. Quandt recalled bystanders in her diary, “Oh my God, look at this modern youth!” A headline the pair embraced: “Are we going to be trendy guys tonight?”
Soon they met Archie McNair, a lawyer turned portrait photographer who ran a café under his studio in Chelsea. The three decided to open a business together. Each man put in 5,000 pounds, and they bought a building at 138a King’s Road. Mrs. Quandt, who used to work for a milliner, quits her job.
Thanks to Bazaar, King’s Road has become the center of British fashion, and London is the epicenter of the so-called youth earthquake, as Vogue called it at the time. Ms. Quant was her avatar, dressed in her signature playsuit and shoes, with huge painted eyes, a pale face dotted with fake freckles and a signature bob that would make its creator, Vidal Sassoon, as famous as she is. His wash-and-wear cut was as killer a hit to the edgy bouffant as the double ensemble mini skirt. “Vidal put the top on it,” Ms. Quandt liked to say.
Early on, Mrs. Quant embraced mass production, synthetic materials, and fast fashion that could be bought and thrown away by the young women for whom she was designed.
Fascinated by PVC-coated cotton, I made raincoats that looked slippery with water. She created brightly colored molded plastic shoes with high heels and zip-up tops.
“Why can’t people see what a machine can do with itself instead of having it imitate what a hand does?” Ms. Quandt told The New York Times Magazine in 1967. “What we have to do is take the chemicals and make the fabric straightforward. We should blow clothes the way people blow glass. It’s pretty ironic that the fabric has to be cut to make something flat to wrap around a round person.
She added, “It is so ironic, in this age of machinery that clothes continue to be made by hand. The most extreme fashion must be very, very cheap. First, because only young men are daring enough to wear it; secondly, because young people look better in it; and thirdly Because if it’s extreme enough, it shouldn’t continue.”
Mrs. Quandt and Mr. Plunkett Green married in 1957; He died in 1990. Mrs. Quandt was survived by their son, Orlando Plunkett Green. her brother, Tony Quandt; and three grandchildren.
In 2000, Mrs. Quandt stepped down as a director of Mary Quantt Ltd I buy – Or push it out, as some reports have claimed – By the general manager of the company. In 2009, she was honored by the Royal Mail with its own postage stamp, featuring a model wearing a flared little black Mary Quant jacket. In 2015, Ms. Quandt became a Dame. The storefront once occupied by a bazaar is now a juice bar above it painting It now celebrates the memory of Lady Mary Quant.
In spring 2019, when the Victoria and Albert Museum presented its retrospective of her work, a vibrant 120-piece exhibition from her heyday, the curators included a montage of photographs and recollections from the thousands of women who answered their call to participate. Mary Quant’s beloved pieces—along with tales of how they wore them as free-spirited young women heading to job interviews and first dates—a powerful tribute to Mrs. Quant’s legacy and the emerging feminism of her time.
“I forgot all my clothes, but I still remember the first Mary Quants,” Joan Juliette Buck, author and former editor of French Vogue who grew up in 1960s-era London, said in an interview marking the obituary in 2021. The pumpkin jumper, aqua mini skirt, and faux beige crepe mini dress with puffy sleeves and floral motifs splattered down the tapered band below the bust drove men crazy, while I had no idea. She held onto the spirit of a woman as a little girl who made the miniskirt inevitable and indisputable.”
But did you invent it? André Courrèges, the French space-age designer, has long claimed credit for its creation, and it’s true that he was steadily upping his lines in the early 1960s. But Ms. Quandt, as fashion historian Valerie Steele points out, has been trimming her limbs since the moment Bazaar opened back in 1955, mostly in response to her customers, who demanded shorter skirts than ever before.
“We were at the beginning of a tremendous renaissance in fashion,” Mrs. Quandt wrote in her 1966 autobiography. “It wasn’t happening because of us. It was simply, as it turned out, that we were a part of it.”
She wrote, “Good designers—like clever journalists—know that in order to have any impact they have to keep up with public needs, and that ‘something intangible. ‘ I happened to start when ‘something in the air’ started boiling.”
“Professional web geek. Alcohol fan. Devoted zombie trailblazer. Certified social media lover. Amateur creator. Friendly food nerd.”