Dame Mary Quant, a fashion designer who helped define the 60s and who created the popularity of the miniskirt, has died at the age of 93.
A statement from her family shared that she died peacefully in her home in Surrey, United Kingdom.
Quant rose to fame during the 1960s, with her memorable Vidal Sassoon haircut and fresh, colorful clothes that symbolized a changing world for women. Soon, she was an internationally recognized leader in fashion, known for her comfortable, simple, and feminine looks, all of which were also more affordable than top designers.
Her clothing represented a new era for young professionals who were rejecting staying at home, staying quiet, answering to men, covering up, and wearing what their mother’s wore. Perhaps nothing represented this movement in fashion more than the miniskirt, which Quant launched into mass popularity (she is often credited as its inventor, though it was more of a gradual process of the times, involving a number of designers). She began sporting “above the knee” dress and skirt lengths as early as 1960, and as their popularity exploded, the hems became shorter and shorter and shorter. Soon, she was pairing them with go-go boots and brightly colored tights.
If that’s not enough, she is also credited with popularizing a number of other looks throughout her fashion career, including but not limited to hot pants, loungewear, jersey dresses, and women’s trousers.
The Victoria & Albert Museum, which has exhibited Quant’s designs, shared on Twitter: “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.”
Quant was born in London, England in 1930 to two Welsh school teachers. Dissuaded from studying her love of fashion by her parents, she instead went to school in illustration and art education before finally giving into her passions and opening a boutique. Her self-taught background actually allowed her to design mold-breaking pieces in the post-World War II world and her designs, paired with her tights, took off internationally.
She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1966 and a Dame Commander in 2015, among too many other accolades to name.
It’s a rare thing that one person can have such an enormous affect on the culture and fashion of an era. And an even rarer thing that it can represent such huge shifts in how women identify and act. Quant’s gender-bending, knee-showing, and fun clothes changed women’s lives. Maybe wear a miniskirt, trousers, or hot pants today in her honor?