1960s Mary QuantThe Mini Skirt.
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1960s Mary QuantThe Mini Skirt
Mary Quant, born 11 February 1934 in Blackheath, Kent, England. A British fashion designer, one of the many designers who took credit for inventing the miniskirt and hot pants. Born to Welsh parents, Quant went to Blackheath High School then studied illustration at Goldsmiths College before taking a career with a couture milliner. She is also famed for her work on pop art in fashion.
Skirts had been getting shorter since about 1958 – a development Mary Quant considered to be practical and liberating, allowing women the ability to run for a bus. The miniskirt, for which she is arguably most famous, became one of the defining fashions of the 1960s.
The miniskirt was developed separately by André Courrèges and John Bates, and there is disagreement as to who came up with the idea first. Like most fashion, the short- and ever-shorter skirt was evolving already among individual fashion-minded young women: The designers who adapted it just helped spread the style and, in Quant's case, gave it a name. Mary Quant named the miniskirt after her favourite make of car, the Mini; she loved this car so much, she had one designed especially for her.
In addition to the miniskirt, Mary Quant is often credited with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that tended to accompany the garment, although these are also attributed to Cristobal Balenciaga or John Bates.
By 1966 Mary Quant was producing short waist skimming mini dresses and skirts that were set 6 or 7 inches above the knee. Quant found London girls seeking newness only too willing to try her new daring short mini skirt. The fashion trend took off because it was so different and to wear it well you had to be youthful to get away with an outfit that was so controversial particularly among adults. The Quant style was soon known as the Chelsea Look.
The shapes Quant designed were simple, neat, clean cut and young. They were made from cotton gabardines and adventurous materials like PVC used in rain Macs.
What made the mini really acceptable was the introduction of pantyhose known mostly today as tights. It was hard to wear a mini dress with stockings and feel confident, but with tights there was protection from the elements and no unsightly glimpse of stocking tops.
A pair of Wolsey tights cost about £1 in 1965 and with careful daily washing they could be made to last a month. Obviously planned obsolescence has been introduced since then for all brands, as most of us now find it difficult to make them last for more than a day or two's wear.