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Quant, Mary

quant’s fashion clothing united

B. 1934

Birthplace: London, England

Awards: Woman of the Year, London, 1963
         Sunday Times International Fashion Award, London, 1963
         O.B.E. Order of the British Empire, 1966
         British Fashion Council Hall of Fame Award, 1990

Booby traps and bacon savers … bras and panty hose, that is, for those who were not around when the designer of the 1960s, Mary Quant, started a fashion revolution. Quant opened her first Bazaar store on London’s King’s Road in 1955 with her husband/partner Alexander Plunkett Greene, and before long she was known throughout the world for creating the look that defined a decade.

Mary Quant’s antiestablishment garb was representative of a new era in clothing. Credited with inventing the miniskirt in 1965 (except by André Courrèges, who claims the idea was his), Quant had a style that was appealing to young women for what it represented—freedom and liberation from the ideals of the 1950s. Her clothes put the fun into the anything-goes sixties. She was known for incorporating unlikely fabrics like denim and vinyl into her youthful designs. Along with her contemporaries, Vidal Sassoon, Terence Conran, Rudi Gernreich, Andy Warhol, Twiggy, and the Beatles, all of whom epitomized the spirit of the moment, Mary Quant turned fashion upside down with her new shapes, her outrageous fabrics, and her candy-colored cosmetics.

Young people quickly adopted this rebellious anti-grownup mode of dress, thrilled that they finally had access to clothing made just for them. Outraged parents watched as British fashion and music trends swept through Europe and the United States. In 1964 both the Beatles and the miniskirt arrived in America and, within weeks, Mary Quant was the best-known fashion designer in the United States. By 1965 Quant’s clothing was available in more than 450 stores in England and the United States. J.C. Penney was the first chain store in America to carry her clothing. Quant’s less-expensive group of separates featured short, little, baby-doll skirts worn with baby shoes and English schoolboy-inspired looks including waistcoats and knickers. Called the Ginger Group, this line was distributed throughout the United States as well.

Short shifts, jumpers, oversized sweaters worn as dresses … these were some of the silhouettes popularized by Mary Quant, creator of the mod look. Of course, mod clothing needed modern underwear, so in 1965 her first collection of undergarments appeared, featuring a new softness and flexibility which resulted in less curling and twisting of straps and bindings, further demonstrating the freedom and youthful chic embodied by Quant’s clothing.

Although Quant’s stature as a fashion innovator diminished during the 1970s, she was able to continue building her business through licensing agreements for jewelry, neckties, eyeglasses, and a collection of home fashions, marketed under the name Quant at Home, which included linens and carpets.

Along with her innovative clothing, Quant’s makeup helped define the look she had created, with colors ranging from psychedelic brights to frosty neutrals. Introduced in 1966, it was cleverly packaged in a paintbox with crayons and dedicated to the idea that one’s skin should not be covered with heavy foundation, an idea that endures today, as does her cosmetics line, which is available throughout Europe and Japan, along with skin-care products. Quant’s Madison Avenue boutique, which opened in New York in 1999, offers an extensive selection of makeup, nail polish, and skin-care products plus t-shirts that feature Quant’s well-known daisy logo.

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almost 7 years ago

I'm did a project on the history of mini skirts and this helped me a lot!