Fashion designer Dame Mary Quant has died at the age of 93. The news was confirmed on 13 April via a statement from her family declaring that she “died peacefully at home in Surrey, UK this morning”. Tributes poured in for the fashion icon who was credited with popularising the miniskirt in the 1960s.
“It’s impossible to overstate Quant’s contribution to fashion. She represented the joyful freedom of 1960s fashion, and provided a new role model for young women. Fashion today owes so much to her trailblazing vision,” the V&A Museum tweeted. Former British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman added: “RIP Dame Mary Quant. A leader of fashion but also in female entrepreneurship- a visionary who was much more than a great haircut.”
Quant was often dubbed the “mother of the miniskirt” after the opening of her fashion boutique, Bazaar, in 1955, located in the King’s Road in London. Bored with post-war style, she set about creating her own designs to reflect the freedom and liberation of the Swinging Sixties. “Snobbery has gone out of fashion… In our shops, you will find duchesses jostling with typists to buy the same dress,” she wrote in her autobiography, “Quant by Quant”.
Soon, Quant’s miniskirts, which she named after her favourite car, brightly coloured tights, and go-go boots were the style to be seen in. “It was the girls on King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making clothes which would let you run and dance and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘shorter, shorter’,” she said. While it has long been disputed as to whether Quant officially invented the miniskirt (or French designer André Courrèges), there is no denying her tiny hemlines took the trend to stratospheric heights.
Not only was she a fashion pioneer through her designs, but her creative shop windows attracted the who’s who of London, too. They included a photographer hanging upside down, a model with a lobster on a lead, and a Harley Davidson riding out of a gold package, according to British Vogue. As such, famous customers included Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn, and the Rolling Stones stopped by regularly.
While making the miniskirt a global trend might have been her most famous export, she was trailblazer across her career. Her bob haircut, created by her friend Vidal Sassoon, took over the capital, and she is also credited with creating hot pants and the skinny rib sweater. There’s not doubt that she was a fashion pioneer who paved the way for the looks of today.
Quant married Alexander Plunket-Greene in 1957, but was left widowed in 1990. She is survived by their son, Orlando Plunket-Greene, and three grandchildren.