British miniskirt pioneer Mary Quant dies aged 93: family

British miniskirt pioneer Mary Quant dies aged 93: family

Quant's family paid tribute to her as an 'outstanding innovator'
Quant's family paid tribute to her as an 'outstanding innovator'. Photo: PIERRE VERDY / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Mary Quant, the fashion queen of Britain's Swinging Sixties who popularised the miniskirt, died on Thursday at the age of 93, her family said.

Quant "died peacefully at home in Surrey, UK, this morning", they said in a statement, calling her "one of the most internationally recognised fashion designers of the 20th century and an outstanding innovator".

Quant went down in the history books for the mini-skirt and making women's clothes fun and affordable.

Whether she actually invented the iconic fashion item has been the subject of a long and bitter dispute with late French designer Andre Courreges, among others.

But her role in turning the thigh-skimming super-short hemlines into an international trend has not been disputed.

Known almost as much for her iconic bob hairstyle as for her designs, the petite Quant also created hot pants, the skinny rib sweater and waterproof mascara.

Read also

Building fever grips Greece as tourism booms

PAY ATTENTION: Сheck out news that is picked exactly for YOU ➡️ find the “Recommended for you” block on the home page and enjoy!

Her personality and style made her "probably the most famous fashion designer that has come out of this country", Jenny Lister, a fashion curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, told AFP in 2014.

"She was in the right place at the right time and that was part of her success."

'Shorter, Shorter!'

Born on February 11, 1930 in London, Quant studied at the capital's Goldsmiths college of art where she met her future husband and business partner, Alexander Plunket Greene. He died in 1990.

Her name was synonymous with the Swinging Sixties in London
Her name was synonymous with the Swinging Sixties in London. Photo: PIERRE VERDY / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Together, they opened their first boutique, Bazaar, in 1955 in the Chelsea district, which would become the beating heart of Swinging London.

Bazaar sold clothes and accessories and its basement restaurant became a meeting point for young people and artists.

Read also

Regina Daniels: Nollywood star slays in red ensemble as she celebrates 13m IG followers

The whole Chelsea district was soon attracting celebrities such as Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Telling The Guardian in 1967 that "good taste is death, vulgarity is life", Quant raised the hemline well above the knee, creating short dresses and skirts with simple shapes and strong colours that she described as "arrogant, aggressive and sexy".

She explored geometric designs, 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 showcased in extravagant and provocative window displays overlooking the King's Road, which became a mini-skirt catwalk and drew American photographers keen to picture Swinging London.

"City gents in bowler hats beat on our shop window with their umbrellas shouting 'immoral!' and 'disgusting!' at the sight of our mini-skirts over the tights, but customers poured in to buy," she recalled in her 1966 book "Quant by Quant".

Read also

Britain finding a soft spot for homemade Brie and Camembert

The designer was also widely quoted as saying that "it was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini...I wore them very short and the customers would say, 'shorter, shorter!'".

'Quite outrageous'

The era's most high-profile model Lesley Lawson, better known by the nickname Twiggy, made the mini-skirt popular abroad and with business booming, Quant opened a second shop in London in 1957.

Quant has been called 'probably the most famous fashion designer that has come out of' the UK
Quant has been called 'probably the most famous fashion designer that has come out of' the UK. Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Source: AFP

She entered the American market in the early 1960s, collaborating with department store JC Penney. She also created the cheaper Ginger Group line and launched into cosmetics, all her designs featuring a trademark daisy.

Quant was "jolting England out a conventional attitude towards clothes," the Sunday Times said in choosing her for its 1963 International Fashion Award.

She turned her sights on the Japanese market in the 1970s, visiting the country several times to open stores.

Quant also scandalised British society with her frank views on sex, making headlines when she famously said she had shaved her pubic hair into the shape of a heart and dyed it green.

Read also

Young Libyans finally able to answer call of e-gaming

She "would make very provocative statements about sexuality and her private life as well, which perhaps went along with her clothes, which were seen as quite outrageous at the time", the V&A's Lister said.

Although her heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s, Quant's legacy can still be seen on the high-street, with its high fashion at low prices.

She sold her make-up company to a Japanese group in 2000, staying on as consultant.

She is credited with making women's clothes more fun and affordable
She is credited with making women's clothes more fun and affordable. Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Source: AFP

Alongside breaking America, Quant considered being made a dame in 2015 her greatest achievement and called Queen Elizabeth II who bestowed it "the wisest woman I've ever met".

Asked by The Guardian in 2016 what she would change if she could edit her past, Quant replied: "Not much, I've had a lovely time."

Source: AFP

Authors:
AFP avatar

AFP AFP text, photo, graphic, audio or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. AFP news material may not be stored in whole or in part in a computer or otherwise except for personal and non-commercial use. AFP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions in any AFP news material or in transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages whatsoever. As a newswire service, AFP does not obtain releases from subjects, individuals, groups or entities contained in its photographs, videos, graphics or quoted in its texts. Further, no clearance is obtained from the owners of any trademarks or copyrighted materials whose marks and materials are included in AFP material. Therefore you will be solely responsible for obtaining any and all necessary releases from whatever individuals and/or entities necessary for any uses of AFP material.

Online view pixel