Tributes pour in as fashion icon and designer Mary Quant dies age 93

Fashion designer Dame Mary Quant, who was widely credited with popularising the mini skirt, has died at the age of 93, her family said, and tributes to the fashion icon have poured in.

The British fashion designer died peacefully at her home in Surrey on Thursday morning, a statement from her family to the PA news agency said.

"Dame Mary Quant died peacefully at home in Surrey, UK, this morning," the statement read.

“Dame Mary, aged 93, was one of the most internationally recognised fashion designers of the 20th century and an outstanding innovator of the Swinging Sixties.”

Her clothes were popularised by famous faces including model Jean Shrimpton, photographer and model Pattie Boyd, Cilla Black and Twiggy, with Boyd remembering her as a “true icon” following the news of her death.

Boyd recalled on Twitter how Dame Mary made her and her former husband George Harrison’s wedding coats, sharing an image from the ceremony in 1966 which shows her and the Beatles star donning the fur coats.

She wrote: “Very sad news today to learn of the passing of the 60s daringly creative, fun genius, much-loved lady, Dame Mary Quant.

“Mary insisted on making George’s and my wedding coats in 1966; his, Black Mongolian Fur and mine, Red Fox. A true icon. RIP.”

Born in south-east London on February 11 1930, Dame Mary was the daughter of two Welsh school teachers.

She gained a diploma in the 1950s in Art Education at Goldsmith’s College, where she met her husband Alexander Plunket Greene, who later helped establish her brand, he died in 1990. The designer is survived by her son Orlando, three grandchildren and her brother Tony Quant.

Following the news, fellow designer Sir Paul Smith said: “I’m very sad to hear about the passing of Mary Quant, she was a brave innovator who was constantly modern, willing to shock and blessed with a business and personal partner, Plunket Greene, who could help turn her ideas into reality.”

Professor Frances Corner, warden of Goldsmiths, University of London, added: “Dame Mary was a pioneer who made an indelible mark on society through her visionary work.”

Prof Corner added that she was “one of the original disruptors whose trend-setting work changed the way we thought as well as how we dressed.

“This profound impact took us from the black and white world of the 1950s to the technicolour brilliance of the 1960s and beyond.”

Dame Twiggy Lawson remembered Dame Mary Quant as a “brilliant female entrepreneur” who “revolutionised fashion”.

The model, whose real name is Lesley Lawson, was one of the famous faces who helped popularise the late fashion designer’s work.

Alongside a black-and-white photo of Dame Mary which she posted on her Instagram, Dame Twiggy wrote: “Mary Quant was such an influence on young girls in the late 50s early 60s.

“She revolutionised fashion and was a brilliant female entrepreneur.

“The 1960s would have never been the same without her. Condolences to her family, RIP dear Dame Mary.”

Sadie Frost, who directed the 2021 documentary titled Quant, said in a statement: “I felt so very honoured to have directed the documentary about Mary and her astonishing life – the more I researched and delved into her life I realised the vast impact she had on fashion, popular culture, history and women’s rights.

“I really felt like I knew and loved her. Rest in peace, Mary.”

Jenny Lister, the curator of the Dame Mary Quant exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, said the fashion designer “blasted through barriers of snobbery and tradition”, in a statement to the PA news agency.

Lister said: “It’s impossible to overstate Dame Mary Quant’s contribution to fashion. With her unique sense of humour, style, and determination to democratise and share the fun and creativity of her designs, she provided a new kind of role model for young women, creating a space for them to be themselves.

“She helped to define Britain’s global identity as a centre of streetstyle and innovation, with signature looks such as PVC macs, colourful tights, and the skinny-rib sweater.

“Forever associated with the mini skirt, and her iconic daisy logo, Mary Quant will always represent the joyful freedom of fashion in the 1960s.

“She blasted through barriers of snobbery and tradition, with her vision of fashion as a way of resisting stereotypes, with well-made clothes and cosmetics that were empowering and liberating, as well as affordable.

“Fashion today owes so much to the revolutionary, trailblazing Mary Quant.”

The official Twitter account of the Victoria & Albert Museum, which recently hosted an exhibition about Dame Mary Quant’s designs, shared a tribute reading: “It’s impossible to overstate Quant’s contribution to fashion.

“She represented the joyful freedom of 1960s fashion, and provided a new role model for young women.

“Fashion today owes so much to her trailblazing vision.”

Alexandra Shulman, former editor-in-chief of British Vogue, paid tribute to Dame Mary Quant following her death, writing on Twitter: “RIP Dame Mary Quant. A leader of fashion but also in female entrepreneurship- a visionary who was much more than a great haircut.”

Dame Mary was taken on as an apprentice to a milliner before making her own clothes and in 1955 opened Bazaar, a boutique on the King’s Road in Chelsea.

Her far-sighted and creative talents quickly established a unique contribution to British fashion.

She was one of the most influential figures in the fashion scene of the 1960s and is credited with making fashion accessible to the masses with her sleek, streamlined and vibrant designs.

Among her collection, she is arguably best known for conceiving the mini skirt as well as helping to develop the mod style in the 1960s.

She began experimenting with shorter hemlines in the late 1950s, culminating in the creation of one of the defining fashions of the following decade.

She said: “It was the girls on King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making clothes which would let you run and dance and we would make them the length the customer wanted.

“I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘shorter, shorter’.”

In 1964, she launched her own cosmetics brand. She resigned as the director of the company in 2000 after a Japanese buyout which soon produced more than 200 Mary Quant Colour shops in Japan.

She was made a dame for services to British fashion in the 2015 Queen’s New Year list and was appointed a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the most recent New Year Honours list.

The special award is granted to those who have made a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine or government.

She was also awarded the prestigious Hall of Fame Award by the British Fashion Council for her contribution to British fashion in 1990.


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