Born in Blackheath, London on 11 February 1934,
Her parents, Jack and Mary Quant, were both schoolteachers
An icon of the 60’s , she was one of the designers who took credit for inventing the miniskirt and hot pants
Quant invented a style to the newly important youth market, she invented the “London Look”.
She went to Blackheath High School and from 1950-1953 she attended Goldsmith’s College of Art in London.
In November 1955, she teamed up with Alexander Plunkett-Greene (her husband) and a former solicitor, Archie McNair,and they rented Markham House, a three-story building on King’s Road in London’s artist district, Chelsea.
In Markham House, they opened a boutique on the first floor and a restaurant in the basement. They called the boutique “Bazaar” in 1955 , where the best-sellers were small white plastic collars to brighten up a black dress or t-shirt and black stretch stockings. In 1957, they opened the second branch of Bazaar.
Quant was influenced by Chelsea beatniks and dance outfits she remembered from childhood. Famed for popularising, if not inventing, the mini skirt, her clothes were made up of simple shapes combined with strong colours.
In 1961 Mary Quant showed her first fur collection and launched her first wholesale company.
In 1962 she presented her first collection for the American market. She also started to design for J.C. PENNEY of New York.
Regardless of whether she invented these items, Quant was one of their major popularisers, largely thanks to the fact that Bazaar was a popular haunt for the fashionable “Chelsea Set” of “Swinging London”.
By 1961, Quant had opened a second Bazaar in Knightsbridge and by 1965 she was exporting to the U.S.. To keep up with demand, Quant went into mass-production, setting up the Ginger Group in 1963.
In 1965 she launched the mini-skirt in London. A fashion show was held aboard the royal yacht Queen Elizabeth and was a great hit.
The same year, she took 30 outfits to the USA and the models in their thigh-high dresses stopped traffic on Broadway and in Times Square in New York. They were seen on American TV. She visited l2 cities in 14 days showing clothes to a non-stop dance routine with pop music accompaniment.
The designers who adapted it just helped spread the style and, in Quant’s case, gave it a name.
Quant said: “It was the girls on the King’s Road 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.'”
Quant named the miniskirt after her favorite make of car, the Mini.
Of all Mary’s designs, the mini skirt is by far the most widely recognized and the one for which she is still famed. Although André Courrèges had modelled above-the-knee couture designs in the early 1960s, Mary’s designs were revolutionary: It was suddenly acceptable and even mandatory to show a lot of leg — such was the power of affordable fashion.
In addition to the miniskirt, Mary Quant is often credited with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that tended to accompany the garment, although these are also attributed to Cristobal Balenciaga or John Bates.
In 1966 Mary Quant received the O.B.E. for her services to the fashion industry, and went to receive this honour from the Queen dressed in a mini-skirt. She published a book “Quant by Quant” in 1966.
The same year, she introduced her famous and highly successful cosmetics line, with it’s striking daisy logo.
In the late 1960s, Quant popularised hot pants, becoming a British fashion icon. Through the 1970s and 1980s Mary continued to add to her product line, putting her Daisy logo on household furnishings, towels and sheets, knitwear, men’s ties, eyewear, hats and even a mod version of the Barbie doll.
In 1988, Mary Quant designed the interior of the car Mini.
In 1994 she opened the Mary Quant colour shop for cosmetics and beauty products. In 1996 along with many other designers and celebrities, she joined a product making individual masks which were sold for charity and raised quite a good amount.
Her clothes have continued to sell well, even today, but she never again achieved the popularity and volume of sales that she did in the 60’s. Her cosmetic line however, sells very well today.
In 2000, she resigned as director of Mary Quant Ltd., her cosmetics company, after a Japanese buy-out. There are over 200 Mary Quant Colour shops in Japan, where Quant fashions continue to enjoy more popularity.
Mary Quant is now the CEO of the London house of Fraser. She also continues to work as a free-lance designer for various companies.