Mary Quant by Mary Quant

Posted June 01 2012

Here at Elegantly Papered we are huge fans of British designer and all round fashion innovator, Mary Quant. Renowned for her invention of the mini skirt, Quant was a revolutionary designer in many other ways too. It all began with her desire to buy men´s fabrics from Harrods, to then make clothes for women. Disappointed by the range of make up colours and shades available when she was a student at art school, she made her own using watercolour brushes and brightly coloured crayons. Later Mary went on to introduce her cosmetic line offering no less than 101 different shades of lipstick.

During the 1960s, tights were only available to be made through theatrical manufacturers, but Mary knew they were essential for any woman wanting to wear a mini skirt. She pushed for them to become more widely available, and they soon did.

During an evening talk held at the Victoria & Albert museum in March 2012, Quant spoke of how she could get inspired by almost anything - from the stripes and fabric of a butchers uniform, to the plastic collars sold for maids to change daily. We found this image taken by East End photographer Eric Swayne showing the Butchers Collection Mary designed from that striped fabric she randomly came across in the window of a uniform shop in Soho. 

Butcher Collection designed by Mary Quant   

We love this super cure Mary Quant special published as a supplement for Honey magazine in the 1960s. Quant introduces the booklet explaining that the clothes she designs are "a perfect foil" for the Honey reader. Quant wanted women to be adventurous and use their imagination to create their own style advising them to 'paint yourself any colour you choose'. She designed a makeup range with vibrant colours for ‘a new woman’ who wanted to experiment - 'no two artists, given the same palette, would paint the same picture, so be yourself'.

As soon as Quant heard about Sassoon, she wanted him to cut her hair. Today we have been remembering his legacy - creator of the Quant cut and the hairdresser who freed women from the days of back combing and rollers - Sassoon was described as “the only person able to cut hair and make it stay in place” (Quant). The image below was photographed by David Bailey who Mary admitted was “quite intimidating” to pose for.