Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mary, Mary, quite contrary...

It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant.

-Ernestine Carter, fashion journalist in the 1960s

When Mary Quant was a child in the 1940s, she used to cut up her bedsheets and sew them into clothes.

She studied fashion in college and met her future husband, Alexander, there.

Mary started to make clothes for herself and her friends, an eclectic group of vibrant, 20-something artists, who despised the stuffy, conservative housewife look of the 1950s.

Using fabrics bought at Harrod's, she made short tunic dresses, low-waisted flare pants, and brightly colored tights.

In 1955, her business-minded husband helped her open a boutique, called Bazaar, in London.

She filled her shop with white, plastic knee-high lace-up boots and tight, skinny rib sweaters in stripes, and plastic raincoats in bold colors.

Inspired by ballerinas, she started selling a tiny little skirt she named after her favorite car: the Mini.

With the help of edgy fashion shows and hip window displays, she quickly became the most popular designer in London. Her clothes were shockingly daring, youthful, vibrant, flirtatious, and affordable.

The word coined by the fashion industry and media to describe her new style was "Mod."

By 1963, teenage and 20-something girls in the United States were begging for her designs. She turned her company into a global empire.

The mini skirt became such a cultural phenomenon, affluent designers, such as Yves Saint Laurent, were forced to follow in her footsteps.

She also started a cosmetic line, which introduced the world's first waterproof mascara.

The hottest supermodel of the decade, Twiggy, rocked her looks on and off the runway.

Mary and her husband club-hopped with artists and musicians and threw elaborate, wild parties at their Chelsea penthouse.

Her own personal style heavily influenced culture as well. Her Vidal Sassoon bob became the most copied haircut of the decade, and turned the hair dresser into a household name.

Although Mary and her husband seemed delightfully in love while moving around their glamorous circles, their marriage was rocky. Alexander was an alcoholic womanizer who didn't even attempt to hide his adulterous affairs from his wife. Mary was too in love with him to leave him. It was a decade sprinkled with violent fights and shattered wine glasses.

By the late 1960s, while on top of the world, she invented hotpants, which became the next big craze.

By the 1970s, however, her rock star status started waning. The hippie movement shifted style away from swinging London and into a long-haired, laid-back bohemian revolution.

In 2000, the Mary Quant empire was taken over by a Japanese company.

The fashion icon, now widowed, faded away into retirement.

Mary currently lives in the English countryside with her new man and spends most of her free time giving art lessons to her adoring grandchildren.


Despina T. said...

really great post!
very interesting.and i loved the pics.


nearsighted said...

Vintage is much better!!

Anonymous said...

I loved her style and I've heard of Bazaar before! Amazing post!

Anonymous said...


Bunny Moreno said...

Love this post mama and I love the way she is spending the rest of her days-quietly, at peace, with her family around her-just divine in my book! xox

Vix said...

Mary Quant was such a style genius, she totally changed 1960s fashion which was until the advent of the mini very ladylike and staid. I'm glad she's living a peaceful life now, she still rocks a fabulous haircut. x

Couture Carrie said...

Amazing pics and bio, darling!
Loved this post so!


sherene said...

I love all the outfits!!

Mimi said...

this is really cool! i always learn new things from you! :)

<3, Mimi
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borka gamero said...

Nice post! Thank you for visiting my blog! Means the world to me, following you now on Bloglovin and GFC! Please return the love on both and Let’s stay connected! Have an amazing week!

Josie said...

What a bold trailblazer!
xo Josie

The Dainty Dolls House said...

She's awesome. I have some Mary Quant items...some stockings, I love them :) Such a great Fashion icon...sadly not a lot of people know about her, they always look at me strange when I talk about my stockings, haha! Have a great day doll x

kcomekarolina said...

omg! i totally love it!

xoxo from rome

cricketfreak said...

Woah:She invented Mod. Awesomeness earned.

Cafe Fashionista said...

It's impossible not to worship the person responsible for bringing the miniskirt into the fashion world!! :)

Tanvi said...

She is a fashion revolutionary.

∞ © ∞

Sherin said...

Wow, can't believe she had such an impact on the fashion world and that she's not more of a household name! Definitely looking in to her now.

A BRIT GREEK said...

Fantastic post, Mary changed up the whole fashion thing back in the 60's! You have to visit the V&A museum one day, some of the historical fashion pieces are still shown there!

Also love the collabs with Vidal sassoon - the hair styles were legendary in the 60's!

Tights Lover said...

Wow she is amazing. I loved the photos.

Bright tights? White knee-high boots? I wish she coulda designed my clothes...hahaha.

Fashion Tales said...

She really was a fashion pioneer! I think Quant and I would have definitely been fashion friends! Great post dear! xo

JUST ME said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JustMe said...

If I growing up in the 50s I would have definitely been a Mod girl. I wish those type of boots were still in fashion. I actually have a pair - bright pink - I dream of the day when I can wear them in public!!

SG Angela said...

she is truly talented. I love reading this story.

mimi said...

How.. could I have not known about this amazing woman?!

She's invented and reinvented so many things that we still wear today!

I'm completely in awe.

I love that the outfits here, even maybe the hairstyles, are still "in". Fashion really is a revolving door.

That's why when someone does something innovative, we are honestly amazed.


Oh to Be a Muse said...

It's always so sad how the women you feature tend to have such destructive home lives. I was really rooting for Mary, especially after you said she did hot pants and mini skirts!

Yulie Kendra said...

hey really nice blog with nice pictures!!! maybe we follow each other ?! let me know :) greetings

Mary Jo at TrustYourStyle said...

I really enjoyed this--I remember Mary Quant makeup from my childhood. What an amazing career she had. So sad about her life life though. Great post!
xo Mary Jo

Alicia Bondio said...

Great post!! :) I am so sorry i am so far behind on your posts lol iv been so busy training i haven't had much chance to do much on the computer lol! :) but i have a schedule now so hopefully i will have more time for blogging fun!! :)i just made another blog, i hope you check it out
again amazing post as always! :)

hugs and best wishes,

Ocean Dreams said...

She sounds like an amazing lady, pity that her life didn't go as planned. :)

Arielle-HumblePieVintage said...

I can't believe someone who coined the "mod" fashion revolution, waterproof mascara, and hot pants could just fade away like that! That is one crazy bob. Anyways, she has so many huge accomplishments to be proud of.

Audrey Allure said...

She is definitely so inspiring!

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