Who Invented Miniskirts and Vinyl Raincoats: Mary Quant's Fashion Revolution
Who Invented Miniskirts and Vinyl Raincoats: Mary Quant's Fashion Revolution

Mary Quant is known and remembered as the inventor of mini skirts. However, in the 50s, she also introduced short shorts, bright tights, vinyl raincoats into fashion, created the first author's palette of shadows, made Twiggy the standard and completely changed the vector of development of women's fashion. Today, her achievements are evaluated in different ways, but then she pursued only one goal - to give women comfortable clothes and give them freedom.

Models in dresses and shorts by Mary Quant

Mary's parents were the first members of their families to graduate, and they were very proud of it. Both of them taught at school, could not imagine their life without books, and Mary's professional aspirations were considered frivolous. But she said: "I will be either a designer or a tap dancer!" The first option still sounded more respectable, although Mary really adored dancing. In addition, it was quite obvious that the girl was interested only and exclusively in fashion. She sewed dresses for herself from sheets, and in history class she expressed her sympathy for the royalists only because they dressed more elegantly. Mary entered Goldsmiths College of Art, where she studied to be an illustrator. Already at that time, she shocked those around her with her extravagant appearance - large prints, indecent (at that time) short skirts, burlesque fishnet tights … Pretty soon it turned out that she liked her studies less than clubs and cafes in the trendy London district of Chelsea. There, observing the visitors, Mary came up with and sketched new images. For a time she worked for hat designer Eric in the prestigious Mayfair district, where she made many useful contacts. Then she met her future husband and faithful companion for life - Alexander Plunkett-Green. In 1955, they opened their first fashion store together. At first, Mary sold there what she found at flea markets, but soon she began to alter ready-made things, and then sew.

Creating her first collection, Mary dreamed of changing the world no less. In the post-war 50s, the younger generation was especially eager for change, love and joy of life, beauty, music and dance … And Quant decided that she would give women clothes that embody freedom.

Short dresses and suits designed by Quant

And she always refused authorship when it came to mini-skirts - "girls on the streets were the first to dress like that." Once, visiting her friend, Mary saw that she was tidying up in a roughly chopped skirt - they say, it's more convenient that way. This decision seemed very original to Quant, and she immediately cut several skirts in her store. And the husband, seeing her in the mini, took several photos, which he hung as advertising posters on the facade of the store. This made a splash. The first collection was not only completely sold out in a few days - Mary was repeatedly robbed by teenage girls who attacked her right on the street. They literally tore out of her hands the bags with things that she was carrying to the store. At the same time, the outraged older generation did not abandon attempts to cover the store, stones were thrown at the windows, umbrellas and walking sticks knocked, Mary was insulted and called names in every possible way … but that did not stop her.

Sketch of the dress and photograph of the model in a dress by Mary Quant

In addition, stars of the first magnitude drew attention to the British rebel - Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Leslie Caron, Jean Shrimpton … The canonical image of Twiggy is the fruit of efforts, including Mary Quant.And on the eve of the next show of Christian Dior, crowds of people with posters "Mini-skirts - forever!" Appeared on the streets. Quant also dressed rock musicians, idols of youth, thus building a bridge between fashion and subcultures. She is considered the creator of The Rolling Stones' image, which contrasted with the sleek style of The Beatles, although the Beatles also did not mind visiting Mary Quant's shop.

Twiggy in Mary Quant dresses

Some of the skirts made by Mary were so short that she began to sew short shorts to them in color. After a while, real cropped shorts appeared in the assortment of the store. Quant loved androgyny in the image, she liked the convenience and functionality of men's clothing. And the shorts, on the one hand, looked like a boyish carelessness and were comfortable, and on the other, they accentuated the legs. The shorts were selling faster than they could be sewn: "Great clothes to catch up with the bus and not be late!"

Sets with shorts

Since everyone's attention was now drawn to women's legs, Quant hastened to introduce fashion for bright unusual tights, the prints for which she invented herself. Before that, women were content mainly with stockings, but with very short skirts and shorts, the stockings looked unacceptable.

However, Mary Quant also invented stockings with an unusual texture and prints

Designed Quant and shoes - often without a heel, but on a high platform, bright, rubberized. The English climate demanded beautiful clothes for bad weather, and Quant could not leave women without cheerful things for rainy days! This is how the bright PVC raincoats appeared, which Audrey Hepburn adored.

Shoes and autumn sets PVC raincoats

As a petite woman, she once bought a boyish ribbed sweater for kids - and found it stylish enough. So, in addition to the miniskirt, Mary Quant also invented the noodle turtleneck! In the 70s and 80s, hippie style, romantic floral dresses, loose blouses and tiered skirts came into vogue. Swinging style of Quant has ceased to be relevant, and she resigned, but did not give up.

Biography cover and Mary Quant cosmetics ad

In the following years, Mary worked on the development of prints, designed textiles for the home, was the first designer to create an author's line of cosmetics, which is still sold today, and released the British equivalent of Barbie named Daisy (in the 80s, this doll still could not compete with her American friend) …

Mary Quant in her younger years

Quant has become the perfect embodiment of its own fashion concept. Now eighty-six, she doesn't mind wearing a short skirt or cigarette pants. All his life he retains a passion for geometric haircuts - this is how Vidal Sassoon himself once cut her hair. Today she can be found both at fashion shows and in the Zara store - this is how a living legend, the owner of the Order of the British Empire, a woman who changed fashion forever, easily walks through the streets of London.

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