Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday Morning Inspiration/Mary Quant

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!

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  1. Thank you Rhonda! I always enjoyed Mary Quant's clothing when I was a young girl!Especially her mini skirts.

  2. Small world. My husband is from Port Arthur and was just a few years behind Janis in high school. He graduated from TJ in 1963. I bet he knew your mother.

  3. Thanks for that wonderful trip down memory lane!

  4. Wow, what a flashback. Seeing teenagers and women wearing these styles, I remember saying to myself 'when I get older I'm going to dress like that'. lol. Little did I know that styles--and preferences--change.

  5. I made a light purple tie dye cotton jumpsuit just like the orange one. I wore it in our jr. high fashion show. I grew taller during that semester and it was shorter than I liked. I was supposed to hold the arm of a guy who bugged me at the bus stop, but I didn't. Fun memories!

  6. What a fabulous blog post Rhonda, Bravo! I loved learning about Mary Quant, the images are great and it's chock full of info! I'm passing this on to my budding fashion designer, Rachel.

  7. Thank you for that fashion piece of history very interesting and yes I will be sure to say a little thank you to Mary for the wonderful freedom of leggings.
    Blessings to you.

  8. This certainly brings back memories! I used to make all my clothes in this era.

  9. Hurrah for Mary Quant! I adore her! I've recently been drawn to the styles of the sixties.

  10. What a fun post! I had no idea we owed so much to Mary Quant! I love leggings...don't know how I ever lived without them!! Would love to get my hands on a couple of those vintage patterns.

  11. I made Butterick 4578 in tomato red wool double knit with off white wool double knit trim in 1968 to wear to my sister's fall semester college graduation. I loved that dress - it made me feel so sophisticated!

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Those were heady days.

  12. I too enjoyed reading this post and the wonderful memories it bought back. I loved everything about Mary Quant and particularly the mini skirt and colour blocking along with topstitching. I still have in my possession, a Mary Quant make-up purse with her signature daisy on it and although quite battered, I will not part with it. My memories also include disputes with my Mum about the hem of my mini skirts which I made. Fortunately Mum was often too busy with the rest of the family to know that I hadn't let down the hem that she thought was too high!!

  13. What a wonderful post. One of my father's friends went to high school with Janis, so he probably knew your mother. Small world. I love Janis Joplin's music.

  14. Certainly love this era of fashion!

  15. Janis by Joplin was the first album I ever bought with my own money. Janis didn't speak very kindly of her high school in Port Arthur. I'm not sure that approved of Mary Quant either. But hey maybe she had to "Try just a little bit harder"!

  16. OMG - flashbacks!! I too made a culotte dress like the orange one; forget what color though... Must go looking through my old pattern boxes!

  17. thanks for the walk down Memory Lane, Rhonda. I was a huge fan of Quants I wore mini maternity dresses to work that would probably get me arrested today! It was fun. I am also a huge fan of JJ. Loved her dress and it personified the era, IMO.