Fashion legend: Mary Quant - creator of the mini skirt

Fashion and Beauty

By Jac. de Nijs / Anefo - Nationaal Archief, CC0,

By Jac. de Nijs / Anefo - Nationaal Archief, CC0,

Dame Barbara Mary Quant is an English fashion designer and fashion icon who became a leading figure in the 1960s London-based Mod and youth fashion movements and who is still hale and hearty today at the age of 85.

Born in 1934 and having studied art at Goldsmiths College, according to, she began her fashion career as an apprentice for a couture milliner and then started creating her own garments.

Motivated by her interest in making fashion new, different and affordable, Quant opened her own retail boutique in 1955 named ‘Bazaar’ which showcased her first impactful styles, claiming the ‘Chelsea look’ with white plastic collars for black dresses and t-shirts.

Following this, her drive and eye for fashion continued in the creation of the ‘London look’, a style that will go down in history for its embodiment of London youth styles and expression. In addition to the mini skirt (named after her favourite car, the Mini ), Quant established a look that included white, knee-high plastic, laced up boots and tight fitting rib sweaters in stripes that can be famously seen styled by the likes of Twiggy, one of the era’s high profile models.

Also during this time the world saw Quant's designs take flight along with her other creations, including the ‘paint box’ makeup of 1966, the still popular grey pinafore dress and plastic raincoats available in various colours.

A major contributor to Quant's influence was the success of her Chelsea store, which then allowed her to open a second Bazaar in 1961, eventually exporting to the United States for further expansion. Within this decade the English designer received her Order from the British Empire for her contribution to the fashion industry, receiving the honour in, of course, a mini skirt.

It wasn't just the miniskirt Quant popularised as in the late 1960’s her brand made hot-pants iconic while she also expanded her designs in makeup and household goods during the following decades.

It seemed only fitting in 1988 that Quant was asked to design the interior of the Mini Designer vehicle, making the standout look of black, white and red associated with the Mini today. With such successes, the now 85-year-old designer is noted as an innovative and creative designer of her time and her name is synonymous as one of the fashion legends of the century.


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