Happy Birthday Mary Quant!

Today Mary Quant, the queen of 1960s London style turns 80. To celebrate the fashion queen’s landmark birthday, we’ve picked out some Mary Quant highlights from our collections.

Mary Quant label. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Mary Quant’s boutique, Bazaar, was set up in 1955 on London’s fashionable King’s Road. It was known for its surreal window displays and eclectic mix of clothes, accessories and costume jewellery. The mini shift dress soon became Quant’s trademark.

The simple material and construction of this dress with contrasting collar and cuffs are typical of her youthful designs.

Dress, Mary Quant, 1964. Museum no. T.352-1974. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
This dress, made from woven hessian and worn over a black ribbed sweater, combines school uniform, beatnik bohemianism and futuristic chic. In her 1965 biography Quant recalls how she discovered the skinny rib jumper by trying an eight-year-old boy’s sweater for fun!

Ensemble, Mary Quant, 1965 (designed). Museum no. T.110 to B-1976. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

This wool dress was also intended to be worn over a black polo-neck jumper. It’s a summer style dress made in a heavy winter fabric, typical of Quant’s playful style.
Dress, Mary Quant, 1961. Museum no. T.219-1995. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Some of Mary Quant’s early designs combined historical garments and traditional men’s suitings in playful and subversive ways. In this design she re-worked knickerbockers taken from Victorian underwear into a quirky daytime ensemble.

Ensemble, Mary Quant, 1958 (designed). Museum no. T.103 to C-1976. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

And finally, every outfit needs suitable footwear and in the current weather, you need something waterproof. These boots are made from clear plastic over a coloured lining, and resemble the Chelsea boots worn by the Beatles during the mid-1960s. Plastic was one of the new materials used by trendsetting designers in the 60s. The heels are moulded with Quant’s signature daisy motif, meaning that the wearer would leave a trail of daisy footprints behind her after walking through a puddle.

Pair of ankle boots, Mary Quant, 1967. Museum no. T.59:1, 2-1992. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Nigel Bamforth, one of our senior conservators, worked for Mary Quant in the Sixties and Seventies.

There’s even more to discover about Mary Quant and 1960s style on the V&A website

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