“A woman is as young as her knees,” decreed Mary Quant as she introduced the mini-skirt to the world in the 1960s. The era was anti-establishment, and fashion was being forged by contemporaries of the designers who had reigned in the 1940s and 1950s.
Mary Quant was 21 in 1955 when she opened her store, Bazaar, on the King’s Road in London, England, explaining, “Snobbery has gone out of fashion, and in our shops you will find duchesses jostling with typists to buy the same dresses.” The clothes were bold—in color and style—and were designed to be girlish, with details like collars and pleats. The hemlines were as short as seven inches above the knee, causing the market of 16- to 25-year-olds (which was coming into existence) to scramble.
Mary Quant was influenced by the creatives of the movement, including stylist (and friend) Vidal Sassoon. Grace Coddington describes, “Vidal came along and liberated hair after Mary Quant liberated clothes. He cut my hair in a bowl cut and totally changed hair—everything before then was lacquered and stiff. Suddenly you could shake your head—it was a defining moment of the Sixties.” The revolution was inspired, and these were the players who collaborated to define the era.
On December 31, 2014, the designer—and the mini-skirt—were immortalized when Mary Quant was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or DBE, for services to fashion in the U.K. —Elizabeth Quinn Brown