Mary Quant, British fashion icon
By Do Je-hae
Britain’s contribution to fashion is enormous.
For the younger generation, London is best known for its high-street fashion with brands like Reiss, Topshop, River Island, Next and Debenhams, offering affordable fashion to the masses. Britain has produced many style icons such as TV presenter and model Alexa Chung and Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge.
The British capital first came to the forefront of fashion in the 1960s and it was Welsh designer Mary Quant who led the way by popularizing miniskirts and hot-pants, items that have continued to make comebacks ever since.
Her 1966 autobiography has been published in Korean for the first time under the title “Mary Quant: The Woman Who Completed Women” by Books On Wednesday Publishing last week. The original was published as “Quant by Quant.”
Ernestine Carter, an authoritative and influential fashion journalist of the 1950s and ‘60s, 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.”
This book contains not just stories about building a top career in fashion but also recollections about the designer’s struggles as a working mother.
Quant firmly believed that “fashion is a tool... to compete in life outside the home.” Her designs were known for being bold and experimental. She is most often associated with miniskirts and hot-pants, but she also created sweater dresses, balloon dresses, patterned stretch stockings and other edgy items.
One of her many famous quotes is: “Risk it, go for it. Life always gives you another chance, another go at it. It’s very important to take enormous risks.” Quant was born in London in 1934. She trained at Goldsmiths’ School of Art where she met her husband Alexander Plunket Greene. Together with Archie McNair they opened their first shop, Bazaar, in London’s King’s Road, the start of a dazzling career that changed the face of fashion and make-up.
The 78-year-old has received many awards and honors, including an OBE in 1966. Three years later she was made a Fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists and was also named Royal Designer for Industry. She currently lives in Surrey and has a son, Orlando, and three grandchildren.