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Mary Quant Mini Skirt Tribute

Updated on May 1, 2014

In the mod world of the 1960s, this famed designer had a leg up on the competition

Now that starlets are semi-routinely photographed wearing nothing but tops & tights, the Mary Quant mini skirt that once rocked the fashion world seems pretty tame. But in 1965, it was a very big deal...wrapped in a tiny package.

In partnership with her husband, British fashion designer Mary Quant opened Bazaaar boutique on London's King Road in 1955, but it was in the '60s that things really took off.

(photo: quinn.anya via photopin cc ~ cropped for shape)

mary quant mini skirt
mary quant mini skirt

Did Mary Quant invent the mini skirt?

Of all the designers selling clothes to London youths in the '60s, Quant's name became most closely aligned -- synonymous, really -- with the mini skirt. But it's still up for debate who cut the first one. Quant and fellow designers John Bates & Andre Courreges developed versions of the mini around the same time, and skirts had been gradually shortening in general since the late '50s -- an evolution from Dior's wasp-waisted, full-skirted postwar "New Look" and Jackie O's just-under-the-knee A-line skirts in the early '60s.

Model Jean Shrimpton may have inspired Quant & other mod designers with the simple shift she wore -- stockingless, with a hemline 4 inches above the knee -- to the Melbourne Cup in 1965. The media squabbling this triggered was a clear, early indication of a clash between "old" and "new" values that would intensify over the next several years.

Pressed on the issue of who invented the mini skirt, Quant gave credit to "the girls on King's Road." She herself sported above-the-knee skirts, and clients would request them "shorter, shorter" for themselves. Quant made clothing to order in quite simple shapes -- often shift dresses with high, rounded necklines -- but in bright, bold colors and stripes, checks & other pop-inspired patterns. The goal was to encourage freedom & movement. A young woman should always be prepared, Quant thought, to run for the bus.

The issue of invention may never fully resolve, but what Quant did for sure is name the mini -- after her favorite car.

(photo via ellefrances.blogspot.com)

Quant by Quant: The Autobiography of Mary Quant
Quant by Quant: The Autobiography of Mary Quant

Originally published in the '60s, this is Quant's chronicle of her whirlwind life as a club-hopping, party hosting designer in Swinging London. Put yourself in the real-life kaleidoscopic playground of "Austin Powers" with this engaging personal memoir.

 

Mary Quant Fashion Show -- Circa 1967!

What fun! Check out the "nearly indestructible" zippered boots that convert to shoes & the surprisingly 2012-looking lace-trimmed shorts suit. And of course, plenty of miniskirts :)

Mary Quant Quotes

~~ "A woman is as young as her knees" ~~

~~ "The fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don't wear her." ~~

and my personal favorite:

~~ "Having money is rather like being a blond. It is more fun, but not vital." ~~

(quotes: brainquote.com)

Vidal Sassoon: The Movie
Vidal Sassoon: The Movie

Influential, architectural hairstylist Vidal Sassoon "put the top on" mod style, says Mary Quant in this 2010 documentary. Quant was almost as famous for her Sassoon-clipped bob as for the mini skirt & her brightly patterned tights.

 

~~ poll! ~~

Jumping off Mary's assertion that "a woman is as young as her knees"....

How old is too old for a miniskirt?

See results
Boutique London: King's Road to Carnaby Street
Boutique London: King's Road to Carnaby Street

Time-travel through 30 boutiques on London's King's Road & Carnaby Steet -- like Quant's Bazaar -- in this treasure trove of '60s style sources.

 

What's on Mary's mind now? How does she feel about the resurgence of '60s fashions she popularized?

Check out this 2013 interview

Were you an original Mary Quant mini skirt wearer, or fan? Not around in the '60s, but still inspired by her mod style?

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