Press Release  February 12, 2020

Mary Quant exhibition celebrates the designer’s 90th birthday

© PA Prints2008

Mary Quant and models at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967.

“Fashion is not frivolous; it is part of being alive today” Mary Quant

To celebrate Mary Quant’s 90th birthday, the V&A announces that its exhibition, Mary Quant, has welcomed 400,000 visitors, making it the museum’s third most popular fashion exhibition ever, after Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.

Courtesy of Fashion Museum Bath/Image © John Cowan Archive

John Cowan, Jill Kennington wearing white PVC rain tunic and hat, 1963.

The show has now surpassed Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 (316,852 visitors) and Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion (272,564 visitors) to also make it the most successful show ever housed in the museum dedicated fashion gallery (Gallery 40).

The record-breaking show will close at the V&A in South Kensington on 16 February before it begins its journey to V&A Dundee. Tickets for the show in Dundee will be available from 20 February and it will open to the public on 4 April as part of V&A Dundee’s Fashion 2020 season.

Quant personified the energy and fun of swinging London and was a powerful role model for the working woman. Challenging conventions, she popularised the miniskirt, colorful tights, and tailored trousers–encouraging a new age of feminism. The miniskirt would go on to become an icon of the time and sparked a new creative scene in London and beyond.

© Mary Quant Archive

Model holding a Bazaar bag c.1959.

Receiving unprecedented access to Dame Mary Quant’s Archive, as well as drawing on the V&A’s extensive fashion holdings, which include the largest public collection of Quant garments in the world, the show brings together over 120 garments as well as accessories, cosmetics, sketches and photographs – the majority of which have never been on display before.

In June 2018, the V&A launched a call-out to the public to track down rare Quant garments from wardrobes around the country. Receiving over 1,000 responses, 35 objects from 30 individuals were selected alongside personal stories from the owners and 50 photographs of the women wearing their beloved Quant clothes. These objects and stories transformed the exhibition narrative, uncovering rare examples such as a very early and unlabelled blouse, a hat sold at Bazaar, and colorful PVC raincoats.

Claire Fiander, exhibition lender from the #WeWantQuant campaign, said “I am still as excited about fashion and style as I was when I bought the dress aged 17, and to be included in such an exhibition makes the whole obsession worth it. Wearing the dress always made me feel like I ‘belonged’.”

From small boutique to international lifestyle brand, Quant revolutionized British fashion with energy, flair and rebellion. Mary Quant provides an unrivaled, and clearly popular, insight into the career of one of Britain’s most revolutionary and important fashion designers.

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