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Apr 13, 2023
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Mary Quant, the fashion icon of the Swinging Sixties, has died at the age of 93

Translated by
Apr 13, 2023

Mary Quant, a key figure of the Swinging Sixties, the cultural revolution that took place in the UK and influenced the world, died on April, 13 at the age of 93 in Surrey, England.

Mary Quant à Paris en 2004 - Pierre Verdy/AFP

Born in 1934 in South London to Welsh parents, the British designer is known for popularising the miniskirt, or even inventing it according to some. However, this title is debated, with some attributing the iconic garment to Frenchman André Courrèges. That being said, one thing is for sure: with her visionary spirit, Mary Quant was part of the revolution in women's fashion.

In the early 1950s, Mary Quant studied illustration at Goldsmiths University, a field in which her parents saw no future. It was there, however, that she met Alexander Plunket Greene, who was to become her husband, and who was to have a decisive influence on her career.

In 1955, the couple, along with their friend Archie McNair, opened a shop in London's King's Road called Bazaar. Quant was in charge of buying, Plunket Greene of marketing and McNair of the legal side of the business.

Britain was just emerging from post-war austerity and this avant-garde concept store, which combined fashion, art, music and a bar, quickly became a meeting place for fashionable artists. The Beatles, Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot are said to have met there. But it was also a magnet for ordinary young women who embraced a more relaxed approach to dressing even before the miniskirt was invented.

In view of its success, a second shop opened in 1957 (redecorated in 1964 by Terence Conran, the founder of the Habitat brand). He, like Quant with her Vidal Sassoon haircut, epitomised the youthful style and creativity of the 1960s.

By the mid-1960s, the trio had three shops, where Mary Quant began presenting her designs, including the short overall dress and the red plastic mackintosh with a white collar. By the end of the decade, her eponymous brand was exported to the US and carried in JC Penney shops. With her designs, Mary Quant wanted to appeal to a wider audience and launched The Ginger Group for the British market, a more accessible label worn by, among others, star model Twiggy.
A gifted marketer and avant-gardist in terms of choice of materials, the British designer expanded her range by offering DIY patterns, PVC shoes and lycra lingerie and hosiery. In 1966, she launched a line of cosmetics with a flower logo, the daisy. As time went by, Mary Quant's name faded from the fashion landscape but not that of beauty.

Anyone who remembers the 60s, 70s or early 80s is likely to have owned a Mary Quant palette or lipstick and the brand had almost as big an influence on the youth make-up market as the label had on fashion.
In 2000, the Quant name was bought by a Japanese company that continued to operate the Mary Quant make-up line.

"RIP Dame Mary Quant. A leader of fashion but also in female entrepreneurship - a visionary who was much more than a great haircut," tweeted former Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman.

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