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V&A Dundee will celebrate the spirit of 1960s rebellion with its first major fashion exhibition, Mary Quant, from 4 April to 6 September, with tickets going on sale today (Thursday 20 February).
This exhibition is the first international retrospective on the iconic British designer who disrupted the fashion establishment, captured the spirit of London in the 1960s, and started a fashion revolution that a whole generation wanted to take part in – and still continues today.
Mary Quant designed clothes that made people feel good. She made quality designer fashion affordable through licensing her youthful and playful brand, creating dressmaking patterns, make-up and accessories that all showcased her iconic daisy logo.
Mary Quant encouraged a new age of feminism, inspiring young women to rebel against the traditional clothing worn by their mothers and grandmothers. Her shop Bazaar opened in 1955, the year after World War Two food rationing ended, and her colourful designs were a reaction against the austerity and drabness of post-war London.
Mary Quant is famous for popularising the miniskirt, but her designs offered many different versions of femininity and challenged the conventional gender stereotypes of post-war Britain.
Key objects featured within the exhibition include the pioneering ‘Wet Collection’ PVC rainwear, a jute miniskirt, and designs that playfully subverted menswear at a time when women were still banned from wearing trousers in formal settings such as restaurants.
The exhibition in Dundee will also feature the stories of women who made outfits from Mary Quant’s dressmaking patterns, gathered through V&A Dundee’s #SewQuant campaign, as well as a new film looking at contemporary female designers who, like Mary Quant, are forging their own way through today’s rapidly shifting fashion industry.
Tickets for Mary Quant are available from today at www.vam.ac.uk/dundee A 10% early bird discount is available until midnight on 3 April.
Mary Quant at V&A Dundee is supported by Barclays Private Bank.
Sophie McKinlay, Director of Programme at V&A Dundee, said: “Mary Quant is a pioneering designer who achieved so much, from capturing the spirit of change in the 1960s, to empowering women to wear clothes that looked good and felt good, to creating a powerful brand that encompassed everything from footwear to homeware.
“For V&A Dundee this is the perfect choice for our first major fashion exhibition, as Mary Quant’s designs are still daring and exciting, and she remains a highly relevant designer who continues to inspire contemporary creativity.”
Jenny Lister, co-curator of Mary Quant at the V&A, said: “Mary Quant transformed the fashion system, overturning the dominance of luxury couture from Paris. She dressed the liberated woman, freed from rules and regulations. This long-overdue exhibition will show how Mary Quant’s brand connected with her customers, how she made designer fashion affordable for working women, and how her youthful, revolutionary clothes, inspired by London’s creative scene, made British streetstyle the global influence it remains today.”
Stephanie Wood, co-curator of Mary Quant at the V&A, said: “The timing couldn’t be more perfect to celebrate the trailblazing career of a woman who was, and still remains, a role model for women. Mary Quant was the influencer of her time with a revolutionary approach to branding and marketing. As the face of her brand, with dynamic retail experience, cohesive packaging, and her instantly recognisable daisy logo, Mary Quant completely anticipated the way that we consume fashion today.”
The exhibition explores the years between 1955 and 1975 when Quant captured the spirit of the 1960s and utilised mass production techniques to create a new look for women.
By challenging conventions, Quant encouraged a new age of feminism and revolutionised the high street with her playful designs, from hot pants, miniskirts and trousers for women to accessories, tights and make-up.
The exhibition is part of V&A Dundee’s Fashion 2020 season, led by Curator Meredith More.
Mary Quant was curated by Jenny Lister and Stephanie Wood of the V&A and shown at V&A South Kensington from 6 April 2019 to 16 February 2020.