Mary Quant Biography
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Mary Quant, Dame Barbara Mary Quant, Mrs Plunket Greene
Born in: Blackheath, London
Famous as: Fashion Designer
Spouse/Ex-: Alexander Plunkett-Greene
father: Jack Quant
mother: Mildred Quant
City: London, England
Founder/Co-Founder: Bazaar, Ginger Group
education: 1955 - Goldsmiths, University of London
awards: Order of the British Empire
Chartered Society of Designers
Royal Designers for Industry
Mary Quant is a Welsh fashion designer and British fashion icon known for popularizing the miniskirt and hot pants. A major figure in the London-based Mod and youth fashion movements during the 1960s, she promoted fun fashions and encouraged people to dress to please themselves rather than conforming to societal norms. Popularly hailed as the inventor of the miniskirt, one of the defining fashions of the 1960s, Quant considered the shortening of the skirt a practical and liberating development for women. Born to Welsh teachers in 1934, she grew up during the World War II period. Too young to realize the seriousness of the war, she actually enjoyed the wartime activities as she was an adventurous young soul. Her progressive minded parents encouraged her to pursue a career and wanted her to choose a stable profession. Mary, however, had made up her mind to study illustration to which her parents reluctantly agreed. After completing her studies she started a business with Alexander Plunket Greene whom she later married. She promoted fun fashion wear which became immensely popular with the younger generation and within years she established herself as a British fashion icon. In addition she is also the author of the books ‘Quant by Quant’, ‘Colour by Quant’ and ‘Quant on Make-up.’
- Barbara Mary Quant was born on 11 February 1934, in Blackheath, London, to Jack and Mary Quant. Her parents were Welsh teachers, hailing from mining families. They were well educated progressive people who believed that girls should study well and establish themselves professionally.
- She grew up during the World War II period and her family often moved from one place to another. Too young at that time to understand the seriousness of the war, she actually enjoyed the adventures it brought, often investigating crashed planes and ransacking the debris.
- Her initial schooling was random due to the war. She later on went to the Blackheath High School. Blessed with a creative bent of mind and artistic abilities, she developed a love for sewing at a young age and realized that she had an innate sense of fashion.
- Her parents wanted her to choose a stable profession but young Mary was adamant about pursuing a creative career. She managed to win a scholarship to Goldsmiths College and her parents reluctantly allowed her to study illustration. She eventually earned a Diploma in Art Education.
- Mary Quant became an apprentice at Erik, a high-end Mayfair milliner on Brook Street next door to Claridge's hotel. She earned a measly salary and struggled to even afford proper meals.
- She teamed up with a former classmate Alexander Plunket Greene and a friend Archie McNair to start her own business. They opened a boutique called Bazaar. A creative young woman, she promoted a fun and spunky style of fashion that would appeal to the youngsters.
- She was always on the lookout for new, interesting clothes for the boutique and also started designing her own range with time. The business thrived and she married her business partner Alexander.
- The best selling items in the boutique were short skirts, funky dresses, bright tights, stretchable leggings and T-shirts. Quant is credited to have popularized the miniskirt, a garment that was one of the defining fashions of the 1960s. A fashionable young lady herself, she wore short skirts which led her clients to demand even shorter skirts which came to be known as miniskirts.
- Another garment Quant popularized was the colored and patterned tights worn along with the miniskirt. Some credit her to be the inventor of this garment while others believe she only popularized the creation attributed to the Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga.
- Eventually the business became a roaring success and her creations were selling all over the world in countries like the United States, France, Italy, Switzerland, Kenya, Australia, Canada, and South Africa. By this time she had also expanded her brand to include a range of cosmetics and other fashion accessories.
- Quant revolutionized the way women dress and in the late 1960s popularized the hot pants—extremely short shorts for women, made in luxury fabrics such as velvet and silk—that were youthful, fun, and sexy at the same time.
- The massive success of her fashion range prompted her to expand the business and in the 1970s and 1980s she branched out into household goods and cosmetics as well. In 1988, Quant designed the interior of the Mini (1000) Designer.
- Even though internationally popular, her cosmetics company Mary Quant Ltd. was most famous in Japan. She resigned as the director of the company in 2000 after a Japanese buy-out.
- Mary Quant is the author of many books including ‘Quant by Quant’ (1966), ‘Colour by Quant’ (1984), ‘Quant on Make-up’ (1986), and ‘Classic Make-up and Beauty Book’ (1999).
- Mary Quant is regarded as a high-profile champion of the miniskirt, a very short skirt with a hemline well above the knees. Though it is debated whether or not she is the inventor of the garment, she is credited to have made the miniskirt extremely popular during the 1960s. She also popularized the hot pants, extremely short shorts for women made in luxury fabrics such as velvet and silk.
- In 1963 Mary Quant became the first winner of the Dress of the Year award.
- She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her outstanding contribution to the fashion industry in 1966.
- In 1990 she won the Hall of Fame Award of the British Fashion Council.
- In the 2015 New Year Honors, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to British fashion.
- She met her future husband Alexander Plunket Greene at Goldsmiths College in 1953. They got married in 1957 and had one son. Theirs was a happy marriage that lasted till Alexander’s death in 1990.
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