Mary Quant

Mary Quant

Immortalized as the creator of the mini skirt, Mary Quant was born in Southeast London on February 11, 1934. The only child of award winning Welsh teachers, Mary studied at the Blackheath High School and later took up illustration at Goldsmiths College. She received a diploma in Art Education from Goldsmiths and began working as an apprentice at high-end Mayfair milliner, Erik on Bond Street. She met her beau and business partner, Alexander Plunkett Greene in 1953 and tied the knot in 1957.

Mary’s career was off to a great start when the husband and wife duo teamed up with photographer, Archie McNair in November 1955 to open quant’s first store called Bazaar on King’s Road in London. The first shop got a pretty good response from the customers and so Quant opened her second shop after two years which was designed by Terence Conran. Quant’s early success can be attributed to the ‘mad’ pajamas she designed which made their way to the cover of Harper’s Bazaar along with sweaters and dresses having collars made of shiny white plastic. Soon she had to hire workers in order to cope with the rising demand of her clothes. By 1966, Quant was teaming up with twenty big manufacturers concurrently. Known as the first one to design miniskirts, this was the defining moment in the 1960s fashion and her career too. Skirts were usually quite long in the 1950s but Quant cut them down to size reasonably and turned them into an everyday must-have liberating women enough to catch buses.

In 1960s, Quant designed the ‘hot pants’ which once again became an iconic piece in the history of fashion. She also focused on making makeup and household goods rather than just clothes between the decade of 60s and 70s. Quant also got a chance to design the interior of the car, Mini which had black and white striped and red trimming along with red colored seatbelts. The special edition of Quant’s mini cars were produced in two colors diamond white and jet black. She also joined the Chartered Society of Designers as a member and bagged the society’s highest award, the Minerva Medal. In the year 2000, Mary was reassigned as the director of her cosmetic company, Mary Quant Cosmetics Ltd after the Japanese took over. Japan has over 200 Mary Quant color shops where clients can get a taste of Quant’s fashion.

Quant’s outstanding career is decorated with many prestigious awards. She is said to be the first winner of the Designer of the Year Award in 1963. In 1966, she was appointed the Order of the British Empire for her years of dedication and valuable contributions to the fashion industry and in 1990, she won the British Council’s Hall of Fame Award. Quant also wrote some books about her career as a fashion designer in which she gave a detailed account of her work like her first autobiography, Quant by Quant in 1966. In 1984, she published her second book Color by Quant. Quant talked about makeup in her third book, Quant on Make-up which was published in 1987 with another book on makeup in tow called Classic Makeup and Beauty Book published in 1998. Her last book was her second biography which came out in 2011 by the name of Mary Quant: Autobiography.

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