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A new short film has also been released today interviewing Heather Tilbury Phillips, former Director of Mary Quant Limited, ahead of the major exhibition Mary Quant closing at V&A Dundee on 17 January.
Heather Tilbury Phillips worked closely with Mary Quant for over a decade. In the film she talks about her experience of working with Mary, at a time of revolutionary social change.
Mary Quant 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.
Heather Tilbury Phillips, speaking in the film, says of the exhibition: “It is the most tremendously colourful, exciting and joyous representation of Mary's achievements over that 20 years.
“Mary is the most endearing person. She was quite shy and diffident, but she had a steely certainty underneath of what she wanted and she was very persuasive.
“She'd often say to the men in grey suits, when they said to her, 'Mary, that's impossible, you can't do that', and she'd say, 'I'm sure you'll find a way'. And, of course, they did.
“She believed in integrity, in doing what she felt was right, and it was obvious to all of us that somebody who had that inner strength could sweep us all with her.”
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 also features 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.
V&A Dundee is open each day from 27 December to 4 January, with the museum closed on 25 and 26 December. Outside of these dates V&A Dundee is open 10.00 to 17.00, Thursday to Monday.
Mary Quant at V&A Dundee is supported by Barclays Private Bank. 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.
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Notes to editors:
As Scotland’s first design museum, V&A Dundee tells a global story, investigating the international importance of design alongside presenting Scotland’s outstanding design achievements.
V&A Dundee features world-class exhibitions alongside the permanent Scottish Design Galleries, and a changing programme of commissions, events and activities.
The new museum has been delivered by Design Dundee Ltd, founded by the Victoria and Albert Museum – the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance – Dundee City Council, the University of Dundee, Abertay University and Scottish Enterprise.
A free timed ticket is now required for museum entry, available at www.vam.ac.uk/dundee