British fashion designer Dame Mary Quant sadly passed away on the 13th of April, 2023, at 93. Mary was one of the leading fashion influences during the 1960s. She was the pioneer of the miniskirt and permanently changed the fashion landscape. Her contributions to the industry will be felt throughout history as she shaped an entire decade.
Mary Quant is famous for revolutionising fashion during the 1960s. Starting with a boutique on King’s Road in 1955 named Bazaar, the store quickly grew from a shop into a lifestyle. The shop provided Quant with an opportunity to execute her vision, focusing on the design and stock for the store. However, after some time, Mary started selling her designs in Bazaar.
Mary studied illustration at Goldsmith’s after her parents didn’t allow her to enrol on a fashion course. Therefore, a lot of Quant’s methods were self-taught. She aimed to give her customers young, fun, and unique styles. Quant’s designs radically differed from other designers at the time, taking inspiration from London’s youth culture and Mod influences during this period. Her growing success meant that by 1957, just two years after creating Bazaar, Quant had opened a second store.
Miniskirts By Mary Quant
The thing that Mary Quant is most famous for is the miniskirt. While there is no concrete evidence that she invented the look, people often credit her with this title. Regardless of whether she was the first to design such a high hemline, she was undoubtedly responsible for popularising it. The miniskirt and its shift dress counterpart soon became Mary’s trademark look.
The mini skirt is the easiest way to highlight Mary Quant’s lasting legacy within fashion. Miniskirts have never really gone out of style since the 1960s. There have been times when maybe longer silhouettes have been trendier. But, even in these times, the miniskirt has not gone anywhere. That being said, we are seeing a massive revival in trends that Mary Quant was the driving force behind during the 1960s. Could there have been the Miu Miu Micro-Mini without Mary Quant?
Another styling decision that was one of Quant’s trademarks that we are seeing resurface is colourful tights. This trend was so popular in the 1960s, and Mary Quant’s stockings made it so. She often styled her miniskirts with a colour-coordinated pair of tights or used the accessory to bring a new shade into the look. Colourful tights are returning, highlighting Quant’s continued influence over the industry.
Arguably the most extensive high-fashion collection we have seen in the past few years, Valentino’s PP Pink collection began with Quant’s designs. The miniskirts or short dresses paired with matching tights and shoes that we saw every high-profile celebrity wearing on red carpets over the past couple of years were ultimately a derivative of Quant’s 60s aesthetic.
There are so many prominent trends that Mary Quant pioneered. She was the first designer to use PVC, creating the original ‘wet look’. She also actively shaped the athleisure movement we see in contemporary variations daily. Mary was a true visionary who injected so much fun and vibrancy into the fashion landscape, permanently altering its trajectory. Her influence over the fashion industry is boundless. Her passing marks a palpable loss within the industry, but her impact is everlasting. Next time you put on your miniskirt, remember who it came from.
Amelia Gregory is Junior Fashion Lead for SSEDITORIAL. She writes on everything from sustainability to runway. She is our lead contributor for red carpet reviews, so keep an eye out for her latest 'Best Dressed' list. Find her on Instagram: @milly_gregory