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“Fashion is a tool… to compete in life outside the home. People like you better, without knowing why, because people always react well to a person they like the looks of.” ~Mary Quant
Mary Quant is a British fashion designer who was
instrumental in the mod fashion movement and one of the designers
who took credit for inventing the miniskirt and hot pants.
Born to Welsh parents, Quant went to Blackheath High School
then studied illustration at Goldsmiths College before taking a career
with a couture milliner. She is also famed for her work on pop art in fashion.
In November 1955, she teamed up with her husband, Alexander
Plunkett-Green, and a former solicitor, Archie McNair, to open
a clothes shop on the Kings Road in London called Bazaar.
Bazaar’s best sellers were small white plastic collars to brighten
up black dresses or t-shirts. Black stretch stockings were also popular.
Following the positive reaction to a pair of “mad house pyjamas”
designed for the opening, and dissatisfied with the variety
of clothes available to her, Quant decided to make her
own range of clothing. Initially working solo,
she was soon employing a handful of machinists,
and by 1966 she was working with 18
different manufacturers concurrently.
The miniskirt, which she is arguably most famous for,
became one of the defining fashions of the 1960s.
The miniskirt was developed separately by André Courrèges
and John Bates, and there is disagreement as to who
came up with the idea first. Like most fashion,
the short- and ever-shorter skirt was evolving
already among individual fashion-minded young women:
The designers who adapted it just helped spread the style and,
in Quant’s case, gave it a name. Mary Quant named the
miniskirt after her favorite make of car, the Mini. She
loved the car so much, she had one designed especially for her.
In addition to the miniskirt, Mary Quant is often credited
with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that tended
to accompany the garment, although these are also
attributed to Cristobal Balenciaga or John Bates.