Mini-skirt pioneer Mary Quant gets maximum exposure in London exhibition

Garments on display for the first international retrospective on the iconic fashion designer Dame Mary Quant, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in central London on April 3, 2019.
Garments on display for the first international retrospective on the iconic fashion designer Dame Mary Quant, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in central London on April 3, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - When London's Victoria and Albert Museum put out an appeal for Mary Quant clothing ahead of a major exhibition dedicated to the designer, it was overwhelmed with the response.

More than 800 people responded to the request to rummage through their attics and wardrobes to find not just clothing but also snapshots and memories.

These are now due to go on display as part of the V&A's One hundred Quant creations retrospective which opens on Saturday (April 6) and runs until February next year.

Thirty-five of the pieces were donated by the women who originally wore them, complete with personal stories linked to each garment.

Among them is a 1966 fancy red plastic raincoat with a white collar that has served two generations of the family of London artist Lady Michaelle St Vincent.

The exhibition features clothes and accessories from 1955 to 1975 as well as advertising posters for cosmetics bearing the daisy logo that became Quant's trademark.

The exhibition starts in the post-World War II world of her experimental first shop, Bazaar, in London in 1955, and shows how her designs ended up being produced for US chain stores and mail order companies.

"Mary Quant has been a pivotal figure in shaping the global identity of British fashion today, and making London an international centre of street style, creativity and fashion education," V&A museum director Tristram Hunt said.

"Mary Quant pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable for women to wear."

Now 85, she revolutionised the high street, mass-producing clothes that harnessed the spirit of 1960s "Swinging London".

She popularised the mini-skirt, colourful tights and tailored trousers.