The south-east London designer famously declared she ‘didn’t have time to wait for women’s lib’ so began a fashion revolution to rescue young women of the 1950s and 1960s from being forced to dress like their mothers for another generation.
Dame Mary raised hemlines to audacious heights, pioneered sack dresses and turned women’s trousers and tights into wardrobe staples as well as popularising the bob haircut pioneered by her great friend Vidal Sassoon.
Sleeveless shift dresses, PVC raincoats, Peter Pan collars, skinny-rib sweaters, block-coloured tights and jumpsuits were also among Dame Mary’s revolutionary designs. Her make-up range would also be considered as revolutionary as her clothing.
In 2014, Dame Mary, who named the mini skirt after her favourite make of car, recalled its ‘feeling of freedom and liberation’. 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”.’
And it was Bazaar, Quant’s small shop in the heart of the bohemian King’s Road, that became the heart of London’s ‘Swinging Chelsea’ and became the foundation for what would become an international fashion empire.
Her ‘Chelsea look’, with short skirts at its heart, went mainstream thanks in part to Quant’s partnership with Twiggy, Britain’s first supermodel. Her clothes were also popularised by Jean Shrimpton, Pattie Boyd and Cilla Black.
A statement from her family said she ‘died peacefully at home in Surrey, UK this morning’. It continued: ‘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.’