Recently I got to visit two great exhibitions at the V and A Museum in London, both fashion based, so right up my street. I’m really interested in the link between High Street Fashion and High End so seeing both – ‘Introducing Mary Quant’ and ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’- on the same day really made me think. Both are outstanding designers who have contributed immensely to the progress and history of fashion.
Today we take High Street fashion for granted, but it hasn’t always been that way. Mary Quant was a ground breaking designer back in the ‘Swinging 60’s’ whose aim it was to bring fashion to the masses. She was in fact the mother of High Street fashion as we know it today. Until then girls just dressed like their mothers, but in the 60’s teenagers had more independence and money, so Mary Quant aimed to make fashion more fun and accessible to them through mass production.
The exhibition shows her energy and enthusiasm for this through film, showing her kooky fashion shows, photos of women wearing her dresses and examples of her famous designs. It catalogues her progress and immense impact on fashion during the 60’s and 70’s and even today 60’s fashion continues to influence the High Street.
You can see her iconic mini skirts, or more common mini shift dresses, which were groundbreaking at the time. She wanted to make clothes comfortable and easy to wear and did away with cinched waists and corsets (which I later saw in the Dior Exhibition). Some were androgynous, drawing on male styling with ties and waistcoats, whilst others were soft and feminine like these, with frills and florals. I’ve always been a fan of her ‘Peter Pan’ collars and can’t wait to buy one soon (I believe they are back on trend for A/W19).
But it is the block colour/ simple style shown below she is mostly remembered for, styled with brightly coloured tights.
The exhibition charts her influence over all aspects of the teenagers’ world – developing a makeup range with the iconic daisy print, plastic boots, glittery and coloured tights, plastic (PVC) coats, capes and bags. With a new fashion look came the need for a new style of makeup, who can forget Twiggy’s iconic eyes with the drawn on eyelashes?
It was also interesting to see that she had a ‘hit’ dress called ‘Daddy’s Girl’ (see below) in her main Ginger Group Collection which I believe was reproduced in different fabrics/ adapted styles as the dress everybody would want to own. High Street designers today still replicate this idea, for example Topshop’s Austin dress (which I have featured in another post and on my Instagram account) was presented in a similar way and soon sold out.
Although her style changed with the time, as seen by the 70’s dress below, Mary Quant will surely be remembered for her groundbreaking contribution to mass production, easy to wear clothes which were accessible to all and of course for the mini skirt and hot pants. And who could forget her iconic daisy design (I admit to buying some earrings and necklace at the exhibition as I love it so much) .
If you like 60’s fashion, are intrigued by her work or just want to see more, then I would definitely suggest you visit the exhibition which is on till 16th February 2020.
If you enjoyed this post, I hope to see you back for my take on the Dior exhibition and the place of ‘High End’ designer wear in the fashion industry .
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Until next time,
Jill Gregory My Timeless Style