West News Wire: Mary Quant, a pioneering fashion designer whose provocative, colorful miniskirts embodied London in the 1960s and had a profound impact on youth culture worldwide, has passed away. She was 93 years old.
Quant’s family reported that she passed away on Thursday “peacefully at home” in Surrey, southern England.
Quant played a key role in popularizing the inventive tights and accessories that made up the entire look, as well as the miniskirt, which some claim to have invented. She also designed gowns and other uncomplicated, whimsical mix-and-match clothing.
Some compared her influence on the fashion industry to that of The Beatles on popular music.
“I think it was a happy confluence of events, which is really what fashion is so often all about,” said Hamish Bowles, international editor at large for American Vogue magazine. “She was the right person with the right sensibility in the right place at the right time. She appeared on the scene at the exact cusp of the ’60s.”
Quant was also an astute businesswoman and one of the first to understand how branding herself as a creative force could help her sustain her business and branch out into new fields, like cosmetics, he said.
Alexandra Shulman, former editor-in-chief of British Vogue, wrote on Twitter: “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 perfectly positioned to capitalize on the “youthquake” of the 1960s. She sensed that the days of exclusive salons were numbered, and thought that even the great Parisian designers would follow ready-to-wear trends.
The look she created was sexy and fun, a sharp break with the predictable floral day dresses commonly worn in the conservative, austere years after World War II.
Quant introduced miniskirts with hemlines up to 8 inches above the knee to the London scene in 1966 and they were an instant hit with young people, in part because they shocked and offended their elders.
While some insist she first developed the style, many also credit French designer Andre Courreges, whose 1964 spring collection included minidresses that were popular in Paris but did not have widespread impact outside France. Others cite the short skirts worn by actress Anne Francis in the 1956 film “Forbidden Planet” as the first example of the miniskirt.
Whether or not she was the first to design them, it was Quant who figured out how to market miniskirts to the masses.
Quant, who named the skirt after her favorite make of car, the Mini, recalled how it offered a “feeling of freedom and liberation.” From her shop on King’s Road in London’s trendy Chelsea neighborhood, she was part of a clothing revolution.
“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,″ she said. “I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘shorter, shorter’.”
While Courreges came from an haute couture tradition and his expensive clothes were aimed at a limited audience, Quant used a variety of materials and colors to make miniskirts popular with young women on a limited budget.