Dame Mary Quant: British fashion designer dies aged 93

Quant, who is widely credited with inventing the miniskirt, was a trailblazer of her time

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British fashion designer Dame Mary Quant has died aged 93.

In a statement released on Thursday, her family told the Press Association she “died peacefully at home in Surrey this morning”.

Her family described her as “one of the most internationally recognised fashion designers of the 20th century and an outstanding innovator of the Swinging Sixties”.

Born Barbara Mary Quant in Blackheath London on February 11, 1930, Quant attended Goldsmith College to study illustration and art, receiving her bachelor's degree in 1953. After a period working as a milliner in Mayfair, Quant opened her own boutique, Bazaar, on London's King's Road, alongside her husband, Alexander Plunket Greene. While initially selling wholesale clothes from other brands, Quant soon began designing and selling her own pieces, resulting in queues down the street.

Upending convention, she churned out simple pieces in a matter of days and kept the stock constantly changing. Very much a part of the new era of “swinging“ London, Quant could always be seen wearing her own daringly short skirts, which she dubbed the mini, after her favourite car.

However, Quant said it was really the women of London who invented the miniskirt. "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," she once said of her designs. "I wore them very short and the customers would say: 'Shorter, shorter.'”

Quant described her customers as “curiously feminine, but their femininity lies in their attitude rather than in their appearance. She enjoys being noticed, but wittily. She is lively — positive — opinionated."

Very much at the cutting edge of fashionable London, Quant sported a sleek haircut by Vidal Sassoon and was fearless and outspoken in a way that appealed to a young generation of women, who had jobs and an income. When she received her OBE in 1966, she accepted it wearing a miniskirt.

In her 1966 autobiography, Quant by Quant, she said she believed her designs to be so successful because “the young were essentially tired of wearing the same as their mothers”.

A retrospective exhibition about Quant at the V&A Museum in London, which closed in 2020, played host to 400,000 visitors, making it the museum's third most successful fashion exhibition.

In September 2019, a Blue Plaque, which signifies a site of historic or cultural importance in the UK, was placed at the site of the Bazaar Boutique on King's Road.

Updated: April 14, 2023, 5:04 AM