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The Universal Magazine

Mary Quant: The Creator of the Mini-Skirt Bows Out

The stylist promoting her makeup brand that has had long-term success

Mary Quant, the iconic British designer who popularized the miniskirt and brought a breath of fresh air to the world of 1960s fashion, peacefully passed away in Surrey, England on April 13 at the age of 93.

In this article, we pay tribute to this fashion icon by retracing her life and career, from her beginnings to her latest achievements, including her Mary Quant makeup creations and the customization of the Mini car.

Mary Quant’s beginnings: the Bazaar boutique

Born in Blackheath, southeast London, on February 11, 1930, Mary Quant studied illustration at Goldsmiths College, where she met her future husband, Alexander Plunket Greene.

In 1955, with the help of their friend Archie McNair, they opened the Bazaar boutique on the famous King’s Road in Chelsea. The boutique quickly became the headquarters for young people and artists, with famous clients such as Brigitte Bardot, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles.

Mary Quant's creations at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Mary Quant’s creations at the Victoria and Albert Museum

1960s fashion: Swinging Sixties and Mary Quant’s influence

The Swinging Sixties, a period of cultural and social revolution in the UK, is inseparable from Mary Quant’s work. Her bold style, bright colors, and light or innovative fabrics helped create a new spirit of freedom and lightness in 1960s fashion.

The miniskirt revolution

In 1962, Mary Quant revolutionized fashion by inventing the miniskirt, a very short skirt that revealed young girls’ legs. Although the invention of the miniskirt is sometimes attributed to the French designer André Courrèges, it was Mary Quant who popularized and imposed it in the fashion world. This bold creation caused a sensation and contributed to women’s emancipation.

Amanda Lear, muse of Paco Rabanne who introduced her to Salvador Dali, was one of the first to walk in a miniskirt in London and wear it in the United States for Quant.

Amanda Lear, a model at the time, with the stylist Mary Quant in the 1960s
Amanda Lear, a model at the time, with the stylist Mary Quant in the 1960s

Mary Quant lingerie

Mary Quant lingerie is another facet of this revolutionary British designer’s creative universe. Launched in the 1960s, the lingerie range is characterized by bold designs and bright colors that reflect the spirit of freedom of the time.

Mary Quant lingerie pieces are designed to offer comfort and style to modern women, while highlighting their femininity. Underwear, such as bras, panties, and stockings, are made with quality fabrics and innovative patterns, making Mary Quant lingerie a distinctive and iconic element of 1960s fashion.

Innovation with Mary Quant makeup and PVC

In 1966, Mary Quant ventured into makeup with surprising proposals due to their pop packaging and bold colors.

She also innovated by using PVC in her creations, applied to large hats, raincoats, or high boots.

Mary Quant Daisy

In the 1970s, the businesswoman successfully launched the Daisy Doll. Inspired by the aesthetics of the fashion of the time, the doll sports a bold and modern look. With its big eyes, thick lashes, and usually short hair, Daisy Doll reflects the innovative and avant-garde spirit of the British designer.

This doll, which marked a generation, is now sought after by collectors and vintage fashion lovers, testifying to Mary Quant’s lasting influence in the world of fashion and design.

Collaborations and diversification

Over the years, Mary Quant has collaborated with various companies and tried various projects.

In 1988, she was invited to decorate the interior of the Austin Mini car in her colors, with 2,000 models available for sale.

In the 1990s, she opened boutiques in Paris and New York.

However, it was in 2000 that she retired and sold her company to a Japanese group.

Models wearing Mary Quant dresses in front of Austin Mini cars
Models wearing Mary Quant dresses in front of Austin Mini cars

An undeniable legacy

Mary Quant received numerous honors and distinctions throughout her career, including that of Dame of the British Empire in 2015. Today, only Mary Quant makeup is still marketed, while her pop and colorful creations delight vintage lovers.

Woman sporting a vintage Mary Quant look
Woman sporting a vintage Mary Quant look

Mary Quant: a timeless inspiration for future generations

Mary Quant’s death marks the end of an era for British fashion, but her legacy remains. Her creativity, her penchant for innovation, and her avant-garde vision will continue to be a source of inspiration for emerging stylists and creators, ensuring that Mary Quant remains a true fashion icon.

Mary Quant’s influence on contemporary fashion

Current stylists and designers still draw inspiration from Mary Quant’s work and innovative spirit. Her philosophy of pushing boundaries and expressing personality through fashion still resonates in today’s trends. The designer’s colorful patterns, bold cuts, and unique accessories are revisited and reinvented, testifying to Mary Quant’s lasting impact.

To conclude, Mary Quant has left an indelible mark on the history of fashion thanks to her creativity and boldness. Her achievements, ranging from the miniskirt to Mary Quant makeup, to the decoration of the Mini car, illustrate a rich and varied career. Although the designer is no longer with us, her legacy endures and will continue to inspire and influence today’s and tomorrow’s fashion.

Mini dresses created by Mary Quant
Mini dresses created by Mary Quant