December 6, 2023


Shopping, Clothing & Fashion

Remembering trend designer Mary Quant by means of 1 woman’s beloved gown

As It Transpires6:36Remembering vogue designer Mary Quant by means of one particular woman’s beloved costume

Jenny Fenwick is hunting ahead to observing her costume once again.

The Bingley, England, woman acquired a Mary Quant authentic — scandalously cut previously mentioned the knee — in the mid-’60s when she was 17 years previous. In 2018, she donated it to the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum for its travelling retrospective exhibit of Quant’s work.

Quant was a groundbreaking vogue designer whose colourful, hot miniskirts epitomized Swinging London in the 1960s and motivated youth society around the earth. She died this week at the age of 93.

Fenwick’s dress, in the meantime, has been shown all above the world. The exhibit will be in Scotland in May well, and Fenwick intends to be there.

She spoke with As It Happens host Nil Köksal about the dress and Quant’s affect on the earth of fashion. Below is aspect of their conversation.

Jenny, I know you did not know Mary Quant personally, but I consider, like a ton of individuals, you may perhaps have felt like you had a quite own link to her. So what did you consider when you listened to that she had passed absent?

I was genuinely far more upset than I considered I would be. It did truly carry tears to my eyes mainly because she’d performed these types of a huge part in my teenage a long time in terms of her function as a designer. 

An older woman with a bright red bob smirks and looks to one side.
British vogue designer Mary Quant, whose miniskirts and tights revolutionized women’s fashion and youth lifestyle in the ’60s, has died. (Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Photos)

How previous had been you when you purchased your very first Mary Quant?

I was about 17…. It was Sheffield Metropolis in the north of England. And in Sheffield there was a store termed Peter Robinson’s, which experienced a section that was specially for up and coming designers.

I thought: I just really like that costume. I like the colour. I enjoy the size.

Perfectly, notify me all about it.

The length was earlier mentioned the knee, which was truly rather unheard of at that time.

Nicely, your voice dropped a little bit as you said. It really is like even now you assume it truly is a minor little bit racy.

We did basically shorten it even a lot more.

And what did it experience like the first time you set it on?

Well, from what I can bear in mind, astounding! [chuckles]. Simply because I might by no means purchased everything like that just before. It was just entirely unique.

A black and white image of a smiling young woman with short bangs, sitting and resting her face on her hand, wearing a short, long-sleeved dress, and white boots just below the knees.
Quant at Heathrow Airport on London on May 8, 1977. (Dove/Each day Categorical/Hulton Archive/Getty Photos)

Did you know about Mary Quant when you went to the shop that working day?

Certainly, I would read [about her] in magazines. Mainly because I normally bought Honey magazine, and there were usually posts about designers, and Mary Quant was just one. And for the reason that she looked as she did — with her bobbed hair and her dark eye makeup — she stood out, definitely.

[It’s] attention-grabbing to listen to about her and study about her, and, you know, the kind of businesswoman she was and what she was undertaking with manner at that time.

Oh, indeed. And not just the garments. It was the makeup. Tights [were] suddenly the point to dress in if you’ve got a extremely brief skirt. And certainly she introduced out masses of colours, styles, points that we might by no means had as a teenage girl in advance of.

Five white mannequins wearing dresses cut above the knee.
A general look at of the Mary Quant exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2019. (Nicky J. Sims/Getty Photos)

What have been your outfits like ahead of you bought this magic costume?

I was often wanting to be a small bit unique, but my outfits were being most likely a small bit on the regular aspect. I indicate, certainly skirts below the knee, mainly because at university you were not authorized to don just about anything that was above the knee. And almost certainly the clothing were a little bit far more like what my mum would be seeking me to put on — well, notably [what] my father wanted me to wear.

What did your dad say about the costume?

He was not pleased. He wasn’t delighted at all. “That’s far also short. Much also shorter.” 

What did you say?

Properly, I must have obtained absent with it, for the reason that I wore the dress really a couple times.

Now, I think he’d learned that in all probability he was not seriously likely to get pretty far and telling me not to don … because my mum did truly assistance me shorten it.

How much did you shorten it?

It was almost certainly a few of inches or so. But the V&A said they would maintain it like that. They weren’t going to lengthen it back to what it was originally. They needed to hold it short … simply because that was the heritage of the dress — as properly as the purple wine down the entrance.

It seems like you and this costume, Jenny, experienced a wonderful lifetime jointly.

Oh, we had pleasurable. Yeah. Certainly, certainly had pleasurable.

Look at |  Women’s vogue from 1750 to 2000:

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Is your fashion currently nonetheless motivated by Mary Quant?

Potentially, of course. But I consider, simply because the apparel hadn’t been as they were when she created them, she was extra — what should we say? — recognizable. She was much more, properly, innovative.

What do you assume of manner these days?

Effectively, I consider and continue to keep up with it. [laughs] I am now in my 70s … but I will not like to gown as nevertheless I am.

But I believe it really is good that, perfectly, adolescents now can specific by themselves with their outfits as they desire to. Likely not as limited as we ended up.

Do you still use minis?


Appear on.

No! No, I never. No. No.

I like, really … mid-size with boots. The costume I’ve acquired on now is sort of below the knees. But, no, I wouldn’t go earlier mentioned my knees.