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Biography of Mary Quant

Sleeveless dress, Mary Quant, England, 1960. Museum no. T.27-1997

Sleeveless dress, Mary Quant, England, 1960. Museum no. T.27-1997

'What ready-to-wear does today, the couturiers -even the Paris couturiers- confirm tomorrow. It has happened several times already. I think it will go on happening.' Quant by Quant, 1966

The daughter of Welsh school teachers, Quant gained a diploma in Art Education from Goldsmith's College, London. Here, she met the wealthy Alexander Plunket Green, who later became her business partner and husband. Apprenticed to a milliner, Quant began to make her own clothes. These were influenced by the Chelsea beatniks she knew and dance outfits she remembered from childhood lessons.

In 1955, at a time when 'fashion wasn't designed for young people', Quant opened Bazaar, a boutique on the King's Road. She devised eye-catching window displays to attract customers. Her clothes were made up of simple shapes combined with strong colours like scarlet, prune and green. Prices were low compared to those charged for haute couture.

By 1963 the clothes were such a success that Quant opened a second branch of the shop in Knightsbridge. She launched the Ginger Group, a lower priced line designed to appeal to an even wider clientele.

Famed for popularising, if not inventing, the mini skirt, in 1966 Quant was awarded the OBE. In the early 1960s her designs were bought by the chain store J C Penney to be mass produced for the American market. The Quant label began to appear worldwide on accessories and make-up.

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