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Models wearing Mary Quant dresses

Fashion designer Mary Quant dies aged 93

British fashion designer Mary Quant, who popularised the mini skirt during the 1960s, has died at home aged 93.

Quant's family released a statement this morning to say that the designer died "peacefully at home in Surrey, UK," on 13 April 2023.

While Quant did not invent the first mini skirt, she famously popularised it as an era-defining fashion silhouette during the 1960s and designed a variety of short skirts for the mass market during her decades-long career.

In 1963, the designer launched a range of mini skirts and dresses for her first boutique's lower-priced ready-to-wear range called Ginger Group, attracting young women who wanted more affordable modern clothing than what most designers were offering.

"The sixties mini was the most self-indulgent, optimistic 'look at me, isn't life wonderful' fashion ever devised," said Quant in 2012.

"It expressed the sixties, the emancipation of women, the [contraceptive] pill and rock 'n' was the beginning of women's lib[eration]," she added.

Fashion designer Mary Quant
Top: women wearing Mary Quant dresses at Goodwood Revival in 2019. Above: the designer wearing a minidress in 1966

Born in southeast London in 1930, Quant studied illustration and art education at London's Goldsmiths College, where she received her degree in 1953.

After university, the designer worked as an apprentice for a milliner in Mayfair, after which she began to make and sell her own designs. She opened Bazaar, her first London boutique, only two years after graduating.

Like the mini skirt, Quant is credited with popularising a number of other enduring trends – from wearing colourful tights rather than stockings to skinny-rib sweaters, PVC raincoats and androgynous silhouettes.

"It's impossible to overstate Quant’s contribution to fashion," tweeted the V&A museum in a tribute to the designer.

"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," it added.

The Mary Quant brand's recognisable Black Daisy logo is informed by flower doodles scribbled by Quant as early as the 1950s.

"She would draw the daisy whilst making her sketches in order to let her ideas flow. Compared to any other motif, this simple design perfectly fit her," said the brand.

In recent years, Quant's eponymous exhibition was on display at the V&A from 2019 to 2020 and examined the designer's indelible impact on Britain's clothing market.

Quant was recognised for her contributions to fashion throughout her life. In 1963, she was the first recipient of the Bath Fashion Museum's Dress of the Year award and accepted an OBE in 1966, which she collected from Buckingham Palace in a self-designed cream-hued wool minidress.

New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman tweeted, "RIP Mary Quant, who freed the female leg. We owe you."

The images are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons