Mary Quant OBE

Fashion Designer

Mary Quant is a Welsh fashion designer and a British fashion icon, who was instrumental in the mod fashion movement. She was one of the designers who took credit for inventing the miniskirt and hot pants.

Mary was born in Blackheath, London to Welsh parents, where she attended Blackheath High School and later graduated from Goldsmith’s College.

As creator of the mini skirt and hot pants, she showed a generation how to dress to please themselves. Her instant success made traditionally cautious designers change their attitudes and make their designs appeal to the newly important youth market.

Convinced that fashion needed to be affordable to be accessible to the young, she opened her own retail boutique, “Bazaar”, on the Kings Road in 1955, introducing the 'mod' era and the 'Chelsea Look.'

In her quest for new and interesting clothes for “Bazaar”, she was not satisfied with the range of clothes available and decided that the shop would have to be stocked with clothes made by herself. Knee-high, white, patent plastic, lace up boots, and tight, skinny rib sweaters in stripes and bold checks, which came to epitomise the “London Look”, were the result. Along with trendy fashion shows and window displays, she secured her reputation through the production of original clothing, sold in affordable boutiques, for the new youth-orientated market.

Following on the success of the first Chelsea store, a second Bazaar opened in Knightsbridge in 1961. By 1963 Mary was exporting to the USA, going into mass-production to keep up with the demand, and the Mary Quant worldwide brand was born.

In 1966 Mary was appointed OBE for her outstanding contribution to the fashion industry. She accepted the award in her inimitable style, arriving at Buckingham Palace in a micro-mini skirt and black cut-out gloves. In 1990 she won the Hall of Fame Award of the British Fashion Council. Mary was made a Dame in the 2015 New Year Honours List.

Image credit: John Adriaan