- By Steven McIntosh
- entertainment reporter
Model Twiggy Lawson led tributes to designer Dame Mary Quant, who died aged 93.
The fashion legend died “peacefully at her home in Surrey”, her family announced on Thursday.
Dame Mary has been credited with popularizing the miniskirts that helped define the Swinging 60s.
Twiggy, who became a style icon at the time, said Dame Mary had “such an influence on young girls in the late 50s to early 60s”.
“She revolutionized fashion and was a brilliant female entrepreneur,” she wrote in a social media post. “The 1960s would never have been the same without her.”
Alexandra Shulman, former editor-in-chief of Vogue called Dame Mary a “leader in fashion but also in women’s entrepreneurship”, adding that she was “a visionary who was much more than a great haircut”.
Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director of the International New York Times, tweeted: “RIP Mary Quant, who freed the female leg. We owe you.”
Her family described her as “one of the most internationally recognized fashion designers of the 20th century and an outstanding innovator”.
“She opened her first Bazaar shop on King’s Road in 1955 and her far-sighted and creative talents quickly established a unique contribution to British fashion.”
She was inspired by the counterculture scene that arose in West London in the 1950s, the area that became her base.
Drawing inspiration from the Mod style – which incorporated Italian sportswear – she designed outfits that made women feel comfortable, rather than just items for special occasions.
It largely appealed to a generation of young women eager for an alternative to the otherwise subdued fashions that were commonplace in post-war Britain.
The Victoria & Albert Museum said: “It is impossible to overstate Quant’s contribution to fashion. She represented the joyful freedom of 1960s fashion and provided a new role model for young women.
“Today’s fashion owes so much to his pioneering vision.”
Photographer David Bailey, who captured much of the spirit of London in the 1960s, told the BBC that Quant “was quite wonderful, she was very positive”.
Dame Mary was one of the most influential figures in the 1960s fashion scene and is credited with bringing fashion to the masses with her sleek, clean and dynamic designs.
Born in south-east London on February 11, 1930, Dame Mary was the daughter of two Welsh schoolteachers.
She graduated in the 1950s with a degree in art education from Goldsmiths College, where she met her husband Alexander Plunket Greene, who later helped establish her brand.
A budding designer, Dame Mary was hired as an apprentice to a milliner before making her own clothes and in 1955 opened Bazaar, a shop on King’s Road in Chelsea.
The store will become the beating heart of Swinging London. The bazaar sold clothes and accessories and its restaurant in the basement became a meeting point for young people and artists.
The whole area of Chelsea soon attracted celebrities such as Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Her far-sighted and creative talents quickly established a unique contribution to British fashion.
Dame Mary was arguably best known for designing the miniskirt and hot pants as well as helping to develop the mod style in the 1960s.
In 2014, Dame Mary, who named the skirt after her favorite brand of car, recalled her “sense of freedom and liberation”.
She said: “It was the girls of King’s Road who invented the mini. I made clothes that let you run and dance and we made them to the length the customer wanted.
“I wore them very short and customers said ‘shorter, shorter’.”
Dame Mary told the Guardian in 1967 that ‘good taste is death, vulgarity is life’, and raised the hem well above the knee creating short dresses and shapely skirts simple and brightly colored which she described as “arrogant, aggressive and sexy”. “.
Whether or not Dame Mary invented the miniskirt has been the subject of a long and bitter dispute with the late French designer André Courrèges, among others.
But its role in turning super cropped hemming into an international trend has gone unchallenged.
Dame Mary explored geometric patterns, polka dots and contrasting colours, and played with new fabrics including PVC and stretch fabrics to achieve a modern and playful look.
Her models were displayed in extravagant and provocative shop windows overlooking the King’s Road, which became a catwalk of miniskirts and attracted American photographers eager to imagine Swinging London.
Writing in her 1966 book Quant by Quant, Dame Mary recalled: “The town men in bowler hats pounded our shop window with their umbrellas shouting ‘immoral!’ and “disgusting!” at the sight of our miniskirts over tights, but customers flocked to buy,” she recalled.
Besides popularizing the bob haircut pioneered by her friend Vidal Sassoon, the hairdresser and businessman, Dame Mary also created hot pants, the skinny ribbed sweater and waterproof mascara.
Dame Mary, who was also a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers and winner of the Minerva Medal, the society’s highest honour, was made an OBE in 1966 and a Dame in 2015 for her services to the fashion industry. She was named a Companion of Honor in the recent New Year’s Honors.
A retrospective exhibition of his work opened at the V&A in 2019 and has since toured Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Japan.
Reflecting on the first 20 years of her career when the series launched, Dame Mary said: “It was wonderfully exciting and despite the hard and frenetic work we had a tremendous amount of fun.
“We didn’t necessarily realize what we were creating was pioneering, we were just too busy savoring every opportunity and seizing the results before rushing to the next challenge.”
Actress and designer Sadie Frost said she was “honoured” to present a documentary on the “amazing life” of Dame Mary in 2021.
“The more I researched and delved into her life, the more I realized the vast impact she had on fashion, popular culture, history and women’s rights,” Frost said in a statement to the BBC. “I really felt like I knew her and loved her. Rest in peace, Mary.”
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