Interview: Mary Quant, 24th October


Opposite me is sitting the instigator for the patriotic period in Britain regarding fashion, during the late 50’s early 60’s, Mary Quant…

Her mannerisms remain calm and as elegant as ever. She moves with ease when pushing her slick hair to the side with her long fluid fingers. I notice instantly a very formal well posed lady sitting in front of me and although it’s my job to take leadership of the interview I can’t help but feel intimidated by her intelligence – let alone her gaze. Her hair is reminiscent of the late 50’s, as it still remains short and slick, not a shocking hair style now…

‘You’re wondering why I’ve still kept the ‘Mod Bob’, she laughs softly.

‘It’s fitting even to this day – a timeless hair style – don’t you agree?’ her poised smile waiting for a reply. I smile. The sharp bob at that time was revolutionary because of being so cutting edge and fierce as it emphasises the features of the face.

‘Yes you’re right that was my initial thought when you entered. If you wouldn’t mind could you please talk me through your choice of clothing and how – I must say – screams the 60’s edge’, she smiles again.

‘Well it is nostalgic of that period but at the same time it holds an element of me…I suppose that period and myself reciprocate one another, as if that style of fashion runs alongside me – we’re running in parallel. To be completely honest my whole wardrobe consists of loose fitting clothing which was extremely popular during the 60’s such as the smock dress, the loose sleeveless tunic etc. I mean although my aim was to design accessible and practical clothing for young women specifically the mini skirt – on demand, I made specific choices as to whether I would personally wear them myself and would appeal to my body type.’

‘How would you describe the importance of pattern, print and colour during that time?’

‘They were key in forming a spring board of rebellion directly from the streets. Those who wore the shift dresses for example with bright primary colours embedded in the fabric marked in zig-zags were immediately referred to as a sub-culture refusing any guidance from society. This was the beginning of both freedom and chaos all interlinked by the pop and drug culture proving ever so present. The introduction of the pill – everything somehow surfaced causing excitement and everyone wanted to stand out. Which was why people bought from my boutique because it was quirky – this type of dress distinction became a moral code that dictated the same values, attitudes and behaviours. It was the password for understanding your next move with your social set.

Quant started out Bazaar’ in Chelsea during 1955, manufactures could not provide for her as they were unable to understand, particularly in that time her outrageous and daring designs – so she had to take it upon herself to create them by hand. She admits that she was lucky as although she put in an incredibly amount of time and effort by having to attend night classes and having to buy from Harrods she was lucky that her taste also suited the general public as otherwise it wouldn’t have taken off.