This past week, there was a wonderful documentary on our public broadcasting station which featured the life of Janis Joplin. Janis and I have something in common, we both were born In Port Arthur, Texas. And...as difficult as it may be to believe that had she lived, she would now be in her 70's. This I know as a fact as she and my mother went to high school together!!! It's a small, small world :) One of the things that I really enjoyed was looking closely at her clothes. Simple and yet so perfectly matched to the era and what she did.
The revolution in clothing can be traced back to Mary Quant. You may or may not know that she is considered the originator of the mini skirt. She gave women the permission to show their legs and they loved it!
Mary had one distinct advantage over most designers in that she was a contemporary to her clients. Her look was modern, with her sleek dresses and her bob haircut.
What's interesting about her designs is just how simple they were. A simple sheath that could also be translated to a culotte dress. When standing still, your garment looked like a dress, but it gave you total freedom of movement.
Her designs broke away from the constricted garments of the 1950's, freeing the waistline. Gone too were the layers and layers petticoats. Her skirts moved as if they were caught in a breeze.
Mary also embraced the movement of pop art and put it on the backs of women all over the world.
She is not only credited with being the originator of the mini skirt, but she also introduced us to color blocking and wearing t-shirts with black stretch leggings. Who would have thought that we could thank Mary Quant for giving us the freedom to wear leggings?!!!
She gave us bold graphics and permission to mix prints.
She became a master of licensing and gave every woman the chance to wear her clothes with her line of patterns for Butterick. The timeless quality of the patterns is amazing. Just a few small tweaks and the designs featured below are just as relevant and wearable now as they were then.
A Mary Quant advertisement for Pan Am Airlines.
Mary Quant is still alive. A little older than Janis would have been, Mary is now in her 80's. She continued to design until her company was bought out in 2000 by a Japanese company.
Ernestine Carter, an influential journalist in the 1950s/60s said,"It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion, there are three, Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant."
And we are all the more fortunate that Mary Quant had the right everything!
So as you pull on a pair of leggings, quietly say a little thank you to Mary Quant :)
Have a wonderful week!