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Mary Quant | The birth of miniskirt / La nascita della minigonna

"The sixties mini was the most self indulgent, optimistic 'look at me, isn't life wonderful' fashion ever devised. It expressed the sixties, the emancipation of women, the Pill and rock 'n' roll. ... It was the beginning of women's lib" - Mary Quant, 2012.

Dame Barbara Mary Quant, Mrs Plunket Greene, DBE, FCSD, RDI (born 11 February 1930) is a British fashion designer and fashion icon.
She became an instrumental figure in the 1960s London-based Mod and youth fashion movements.
She was one of the designers who took credit for the miniskirt and hotpants.
Ernestine Carter wrote: "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".



Early life

uant was born on 11 February 1930 in Blackheath, London, the daughter of Welsh teachers.
Her parents, Jack and Mildred Quant, were both from mining families; however, they had been awarded scholarships to grammar school and had both attained first-class degrees at Cardiff University before they moved to London to work as school teachers.
She went to Blackheath High School. For college, her desire had been to study fashion; however, her parents dissuaded her from that course of study, and she instead studied illustration and art education at Goldsmiths College for which she received a degree in 1953.
In pursuit of her love for fashion, after finishing her degree, she apprenticed with Erik, a high-end Mayfair milliner on Brook Street next door to Claridge's hotel.


Fashion career

Quant initially sold clothing sourced from wholesalers in her new boutique. The bolder and more unique pieces in her collection started garnering more attention from media like Harper's Bazaar, and an American manufacturer purchased some of her dress designs.
Because of this attention and her personal love for these bolder styles, she decided to take designs into her own hands.
Initially working solo, she was soon employing a handful of sewing machine operators; by 1966 she was working with a total of 18 manufacturers.
A self-taught designer inspired by the culture-forward 'Chelsea Set' of artists and socialites, Quant's designs were riskier and more unique than standard styles of the time.

Quant's designs revolutionized fashion from the utilitarian wartime standard of the late 40s to the energy of the 50s and 60s' cultural shifts.
Quant's impact did not just come from her unique designs; in her boutique, she created a special environment, including music, drinks, and long hours that appealed to young adults.
This environment was unique for the industry, as it differentiated from the stale department stores and inaccessible high-end designer store environments that had a hold of the fashion market.

It made Bazaar a hot spot for trendy youth, a brand new experience in the world of shopping, and a beacon of inspiration for the world of fashion moving forward.
For a while in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Quant was one of only two London-based high-end designers consistently offering youthful clothes for young people.
The other was Kiki Byrne, who opened her boutique on the King's Road in direct competition with Quant.


Quant and the miniskirt

The miniskirt, described as one of the defining fashions of the 1960s, is one of the garments most widely associated with Quant.
While she is often cited as the inventor of the style, this claim has been challenged by others.
Marit Allen, a contemporary fashion journalist and editor of the influential "Young Ideas" pages for UK Vogue, firmly stated that another British fashion designer, John Bates, rather than Quant or André Courrèges, was the original creator of the miniskirt.
Others credit Courrèges with the invention of the style.
However, skirts had been getting shorter since the 1950s-a development Quant considered practical and liberating, allowing women the ability to run for a bus.

Quant later said: "It was the girls on the King's Road [during the "Swinging London" scene] who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, 'Shorter, shorter.'" She gave the miniskirt its name, after her favourite make of car, the Mini, and said of its wearers: "they are curiously feminine, but their femininity lies in their attitude rather than in their appearance ... She enjoys being noticed, but wittily. She is lively-positive-opinionated".

In addition to the miniskirt, Quant is often credited with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that tended to accompany the garment, although their creation is also attributed to the Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, who offered harlequin-patterned tights in 1962, or to John Bates.

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Later career

In the late 1960s, Quant offered short shorts that were the forerunner of hotpants and became a British fashion icon.
Through the 1970s and 1980s she concentrated on household goods and make-up rather than just her clothing lines, including the duvet, which she claims to have invented.
In 1988, Quant designed the interior of the Mini (1000) Designer (originally dubbed the Mini Quant, the name was changed when popularity charts were set against having Quant's name on the car). It featured black-and-white striped seats with red trimming.

The seatbelts were red, and the driving and passenger seats had Quant's signature on the upper left quadrant. The steering-wheel had Quant's signature daisy, and the bonnet badge had "Mary Quant" written over the signature name.
The headlight housings, wheel arches, door handles and bumpers were all "nimbus grey", rather than the more common chrome or black finishes.
Two thousand were released in the UK on 15 June 1988, and a number were also released on to foreign markets; however, the numbers for these are hard to come by. The special edition Mini came in two body colours, jet black and diamond white.

In 2000, she resigned as director of Mary Quant Ltd, her cosmetics company, after a Japanese buy-out.
There are more than 200 Mary Quant Colour shops in Japan.

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Recognition

In 1963 Quant was the first winner of the Dress of the Year award.
In 1966 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her outstanding contribution to the fashion industry.
She arrived at Buckingham Palace to accept the award in a cream wool jersey minidress with blue facings.
In 1990 she won the Hall of Fame Award of the British Fashion Council. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to British fashion.

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Quant received an honorary doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2006.
n 2012, she was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life.
Quant is a fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers, and winner of the Minerva Medal, the society's highest award. | Source: © Wikipedia

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum


Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Dame Barbara Mary Quant (Blackheath, 11 febbraio 1930) è una stilista Britannica, conosciuta in tutto il mondo come l'inventrice della minigonna.

Biografia

Nasce a Blackheath, in un sobborgo di Londra da due professori gallesi, della London University, che per lei sognavano un tranquillo futuro d'insegnante.
Mary Quant studia al Goldsmiths College prima di diventare stilista. A sedici anni però, decide di andarsene di casa per vivere la "bohème" a Londra.
Qui conosce Alexander Plunket Greene, appartenente ad una nobile famiglia inglese e nipote di Bertrand Russell, anch'egli smanioso di libertà e di stravaganze.
I due iniziano un divertente ménage: mangiano quando hanno soldi, viaggiano come possono, si vestono come passa loro per la testa.
Mary ha una predilezione per le gonne corte e gli stivaletti, Alexander si adatta. I due fanno amicizia con un ex avvocato diventato fotografo, Archie Mc Nair, e quando Alexander per il suo ventunesimo compleanno eredita dei soldi, decidono, con l'aiuto di Mc Nair, di comperare una casa. Nello scantinato aprono un ristorante ed al primo piano la boutique Bazaar (1955).

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

La boutique è situata sulla Kings Road a Londra, e tra i giovani ha un successo immediato: finalmente hanno trovato qualcuno che la pensa come loro, che vive come loro e che capisce perfettamente quello che può piacere a loro.
I giovani del Paese più conformista d'Europa sono i primi a sentire la necessità di cambiamenti che, per spezzare la tradizione ed imporsi all'attenzione, devono essere necessariamente estremi.
La frattura con il vecchio mondo è rappresentata dai capelli lunghi per i ragazzi, dalle gonne corte per le ragazze e dalla musica dei Beatles.
I londinesi dapprima ridono della boutique di Mary e del folcloristico gruppo di giovani che la frequenta, ma poi la curiosità attira gente del mondo del cinema, del teatro, dell'arte.

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Arrivano i soldi e Mary, che nel frattempo si è sposata con Alexander, apre un altro negozio nell'aristocratica Brompton Road a Knightsbridge. Icona della Swinging London sarà anche brillante imprenditrice: fonda nel 1963 il "Ginger Group" per esportare i suoi prodotti negli USA, lancerà una linea di cosmetici nel 1966 ed una collezione di calzature nel 1967.
Nel 1966, riceve dalle mani della regina Elisabetta, l'onorificenza di Cavaliere della Corona Britannica, che l'anno prima era stato dato ai suoi idoli: i Beatles.
Lo scrittore Bernard Levin la definirà "High Priestess of Sixties fashion", l'alta sacerdotessa della moda degli anni sessanta.
Nella sua vita conobbe anche Vidal Sassoon,un famoso parrucchiere a quei tempi.

La minigonna

È da quasi tutti considerata l'inventrice della minigonna, capo d'abbigliamento che spopolò tra i giovani perché indossato da una parrucchiera di 17 anni, Leslie Hornby detta Twiggy (fuscello), antesignana delle top model-teen ager. André Courrèges, che nel 1964 aveva presentato abiti corti e linee a trapezio, rivendicherà il copyright della minigonna.
Dopo alcuni anni Mary si trasferisce in Giappone. | Fonte: © British Wikipedia

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Mary Quant Quotes / Aforismi

"Le vere creatrici della mini sono le ragazze, le stesse che si vedono per la strada".

"Snobbery has gone out of fashion, and in our shops you will find duchesses jostling with typists to buy the same dresses".
"Lo snobismo è passato di moda e nei nostri negozi troverai duchesse che si accalcano con le dattilografe per comprare gli stessi vestiti".

"Having money is rather like being a blonde. It is more fun but not vital".
"Avere soldi è un po' come essere una bionda. È più divertente ma non vitale".

"Rules are invented for lazy people who don't want to think for themselves".
"Le regole sono inventate per le persone pigre che non vogliono pensare da sole".

"All a designer can do is to anticipate a mood before people realize that they are bored. It is simply a matter of getting bored first".
"Tutto ciò che un designer può fare è anticipare uno stato d'animo prima che le persone si rendano conto di essere annoiate. Si tratta semplicemente di annoiarsi prima".

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

"Being young is greatly overestimated…Any failure seems so total. Later on you realize you can have another go".
"Essere giovani è molto sopravvalutato... Ogni fallimento sembra così totale. Più tardi ti rendi conto che puoi fare un altro tentativo".

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

"I didn't think of the mini as sexual but as an instrument of liberation. I wanted to make clothes that you could move in, skirts you could run and dance in, but, of course, wearing clothes like that made you feel and look sexy".
"Non pensavo al mini come sessuale ma come strumento di liberazione. Volevo creare vestiti con cui muoverti, gonne con cui correre e ballare, ma, ovviamente, indossare abiti del genere ti faceva sentire e sembrare sexy".
"I saw no reason why childhood shouldn't last for ever. I wanted everyone to retain the grace of a child and not to have to become stilted, confined, ugly beings. So I created clothes that worked and moved and allowed people to run, to jump, to leap, to retain their precious freedom".
"Non vedevo motivo per cui l'infanzia non dovesse durare per sempre. Volevo che tutti conservassero la grazia di un bambino e non dovessero diventare esseri imbalsamati, confinati, brutti. Così ho creato abiti che funzionassero e si muovessero e permettessero alle persone di correre, saltare, saltare, conservare la loro preziosa libertà".




Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Mary Quant at the Victoria and Albert Museum