Fashion facts

Mary Quant – A 70s Fashion Icon


image via Flickr creative commons from nyaa_birdies_perch

Although fashion moves in a cyclical motion, and what is fashionable now was fashionable twenty years ago and is likely to repeat in twenty years’ time, there are certain fashion icons renowned throughout history for their sense of style and trendsetting ability. Such an icon is Mary Quant, fashionista of the 1960s and 1970s. She was the woman who showcased the mini skirt in the 60s and who made hot pants the item for women to be seen in during the 70s. Here is more about Mary Quant.


Born on 11 February 1934 in London, Mary Quant began her career by studying illustration at Goldsmiths College. After acquiring a diploma in Art Education, she became an apprentice couture milliner which led to her designing and manufacturing clothes. A contemporary amongst her fashion peers, Mary Quant was determined to create fashion that was both affordable and accessible to the young, and decided to open her own retail boutique, ‘Bazaar’ in 1955, introducing the ‘mod’ era and the ‘Chelsea Look’. Best-selling items during this fashion phase were the white plastic collars and black stretch leggings still worn by so many women today.

The high point of her fame was during the 1960s when she created the micro mini skirt in a bid to follow the demands of the women of the time who wanted their skirts to be shorter and shorter. She even named the clothing item after her favourite make of car – the Mini.

The late 60s and early 70s saw Quant popularise the wearing of hot pants, which again are still a popular fashion item today. Hot pants – Missguided USA are inspired from the early designs of Mary Quant, so popular amongst women because they elongate legs and make them appear slimmer.

Out with the old, in with the new

One of the reasons Mary Quant was and still is, so iconic, is due to her no fuss, no nonsense approach to fashion and style. That meant out with the big bouffant hairstyles such as the beehive, and in with the modern, hassle-free and streamlined bob cut. A non-conformist, Mary Quant believed that it was up to her to design clothes the way she envisaged fashion should be. By listening to the demands of the women who shopped in her boutique and creating affordable fashion for the young generation, Mary Quant was able to secure her place in fashion history.

Modern day Mary Quant

The fashion designer is now 79 years old and yet she still hasn’t lost her sense of style. Speaking to the Telegraph about her life, Mary Quant enthused about the modern day fashions and styles worn by young women nowadays, asking rhetorically, “Don’t women look incredible nowadays?” And if today’s fashion styles are anything to go by, they can all be traced back to the legendary Mary Quant, who dared to change the face of fashion all those years ago.

Although many women have dismissed her fashion as purely for skinny ladies, Quant insists that she never saw anyone who wasn’t skinny thin until she went to America in the sixties. And she wasn’t speaking harshly of weight; rather, she innocently believed that all women were supposed to be skinny thin. Her fashion range was developed to emphasise the straight up and down boyish figures of women in the 60s and 70s, as Quant herself declared in an interview, “It is the bones that make dresses look wonderful; it is the bones, when they jut out at the right place”.

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