Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary first look as the exhibition prepares to open at Kelvingrove

The international sell out exhibition ‘Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary’ comes to Glasgow for its final installation
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The finishing touches are being made inside the basement of Kelvingrove Museum, preparing for the opening of a V&A organised exhibition showcasing the life and work of revolutionary fashion designer Dame Mary Quant, the largest of its kind put together in her honour. This launches Saturday 20 May, just over a month following its subject’s death aged 93. This is the last leg of a world wide tour for the exhibition, and thus may be the last opportunity to witness over 100 garments, accessories, cosmetics and photographs - many which were previously unseen - from the V&A’s archive, the designer’s personal archive, a public appeal and private collections.

Mary Quant steered the fashion movement of the 1960s, when attitudes were changing, becoming more liberal, more relaxed, she reflected this in her clothes giving woman - from all financial backgrounds - a platform to express a newfound identity. This period had spawned new opportunity for youths as the means were available for them to detach from cultures that had encumbered their parents. They were no longer as restricted to the roles of ‘breadwinner’ and ‘housewife’ and her clothes embodied this sense of independence.

Mary Quant leaves the airport and heads for Amsterdam in  1966Mary Quant leaves the airport and heads for Amsterdam in  1966
Mary Quant leaves the airport and heads for Amsterdam in 1966
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Quant is widely considered the inventor of the miniskirt, as while hems had surely been rising since the 50s, it was she who pushed the item into mass market and made it accessible to those who weren’t able to shop high end. With the help of her husband Alexander Plunkett-Greene whom she’d met at art college, in 1955 they opened a clothing Boutique, Bazaar, on King’s Road in Chelsea which altered the entire structure of the High Street and lay the foundations for today’s retail culture.

The exhibition focuses on the years from this period, through to the ‘Swinging Sixties, up until 1975. Glasgow Museums Curator Rebecca Quinton said that Quant was “very much at the forefront of what became known as the London Look. She done radical things, I mean she paired the miniskirt with opaque tights. We forget tights were new, people were still wearing stockings.

“She also produced a very exciting new business model - she was producing her own designs but also partnered and licensed her work to other people. That really opened up and extended her look. This was very much for young people who were maybe just beginning to have their own money, for women who weren’t getting married immediately and had disposable income. She was selling directly through her shops or through the Ginger Group label - that was wholesale - there were different price points. And if you couldn’t quite afford any of those, she was producing patterns for producers so you could make your own Mary Quant designs, and I think that’s how her look, her name became so big, in that it was available.”

Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary opens to the general public Saturday 20 May and will remain in Kelvingrove until 22 October 2023. Tickets are £8.50, concession £6.50, with children under 12 permitted for free.

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