Countdown to Quant: the V&A to celebrate the work of Mary Quant in new exhibition

MODELS took to the streets of London last week in a ‘60s revival to celebrate the upcoming V&A exhibition of the work of fashion designer and icon – Mary Quant.

Some, like Jill Kennington and Kari Ann Muller, were models who worked with Quant in the ‘60s and ‘70s, while other contemporary models, decked out in original Mary Quant clothes, demonstrated just how relevant Quant’s designs continue to be.

V&A Mary Quant Exhibition 1Models show off their Mary Quant clothing outside the V&A

V&A Mary Quant Exhibition 2Original Mary Quant models pose outside the V&A

Along with ‘60s Go-Go dance group The Meyer Dancers, the group gathered in front of the V&A before riding a traditional London Routemaster bus through Chelsea and along the King’s Road, to the location of Quant’s first boutique.

The exhibition, which will open in April next year will explore the years between 1955 and 1975, when, in the youthful spirit of the ‘60s, Quant encouraged young woman to find the fun in expressing themselves through fashion.

Her playful attitude towards fashion was evident in her designs, from pioneering the mini skirt and its accompanying bright-coloured tights, to championing hot pants for the modern sixties woman.

Quant believed that shorter skirts were more practical, allowing women to do many of the things that men took for granted, such as running for the bus. This desire to challenge convention and promote a new brand of liberating feminism was also found in Quant’s tailored trousers, showing that it was not only men who could be both stylish and practical at once.

V&A Mary Quant Exhibition 3Mary Quant and models at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967
© PA Prints 2008

The show will exhibit over 120 garments, as well as accessories, cosmetics, sketches and photographs, many of which have never been on display before.

The exhibition has received unprecedented access to Quant’s archive, as well as receiving 35 items and personal stories from individuals who owned original Quant clothing.

The overarching feeling that curators Jenny Lister and Stephanie Wood sensed when working to curate the show was that Quant clothing and the memories associated with Quant and her designs were greatly beloved. Many of the individuals who had worked with Quant or owned one of her pieces expressed a fondness that is a real testament to the playfulness and energy that Quant inspired in fashion. This was a joy that was also expressed in the Countdown to the Quant launch event.

Heather Tilbury, Former Director of Mary Quant Limited said, “The moment the V&A’s launch event was suggested to the 1960s and ‘70s models with whom we are still in touch, their excitement and enthusiasm was contagious.”

The V&A exhibition will offer visitors the opportunity to experience for themselves the designs and the character that inspired such devotion.

by Hannah Valentine

The exhibition Mary Quant runs from February 16 – April 6, 2019. Tickets from £12

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