Style Mary Quant changed everything

Mary Quant changed everything

Andrea Tuzio

There are existences that, indisputably and through their work and approach to life, define the era in which they operated.
One of them is Mary Quant, the visionary and enterprising British fashion designer who rewrote the rules and trends of an era of great socio-political, economic and cultural changes and that greatly transformed the values of the community, the 1960s.

Quant passed away yesterday at the age of 93 at her home in Surrey, a county in southern England, bequeathing us the invention of the miniskirt, although the issue is much debated.

“Neither I nor Courregès invented it. The street did”, the designer once said, trying to defuse the long and cloying querelle over who had actually “invented” a garment that upset the fashion status quo of the time.

She was born to Welsh parents in 1930 and grew up in Blackheath, South London. Always an extremely bright creative mind, Quant studied illustration and art education, graduating from Goldsmiths, University of London where she met Alexander Plunket Greene, who would later become her husband and with whom, in 1955, she opened her first London boutique, “Bazar”, on King’s Road in Chelsea.

The store was not just a simple store, but soon became for all intents and purposes a cultural nerve center of the London of the time – one could meet models, artists, designers, intellectuals there – and where the shopping experience was totally revolutionized: loud music, free drinks to patrons, shop windows set up in an original and fun way, and opening late into the night were the tools by which it undermined the formality that dominated the society of the time.

She was also the “mother” of hot pants, which she often paired with brightly colored tights and high boots . Apparently, what drove Quant to “shorten” her creations were the customers themselves, who, driven by that disruptive and innovative energy, became protagonists of the history that was changing. 

Yesterday she left, in the words of her family, “one of the most internationally recognized designers of the 20th century and an extraordinary innovator”, and we can only agree.

Written by Andrea Tuzio
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