Mary Quant show proves another smash hit for V&A

Mary Quant
Mary Quant in her appartment in Draycott Place (Chelsea, London) thinking about her next creations. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images) c.1965

The Mary Quant retrospective at the V&A has played host to 400,000 visitors making it the museum’s third most successful fashion exhibition ever, after Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.

The record-breaking show finishes its residency at the Kensington museum on 16 February before moving to the V&A Dundee. News of its success comes as the iconic British designer celebrates her 86th birthday today.

Dame Mary, who is most famous for her mini-skirts, is credited with creating young fashion and was a forerunner to the high street. Her designs, which also included colourful tights and tailored trousers, heralded a new wave of feminism in the 1960s and she went on to become an icon of British design.

The show was allowed unprecedented access to Dame Mary Quant’s Archive, as well as drawing on the V&A’s extensive fashion holdings, which include the largest public collection of Quant garments in the world. It brings together over 120 garments as well as accessories, cosmetics, sketches and photographs – the majority of which have never been on display before.

Mary Quant
Mary Quant and models at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967 © PA Prints 2008

In June 2018, the museum launched a call-out to the public to track down rare Quant garments from wardrobes around the country. Receiving over 1,000 responses, 35 objects from 30 individuals were selected alongside personal stories from the owners and 50 photographs of the women wearing their beloved Quant clothes.

Claire Fiander, exhibition lender from the #WeWantQuant campaign, said: “I am still as excited about fashion and style as I was when I bought the dress aged 17, and to be included in such an exhibition makes the whole obsession worth it. Wearing the dress always made me feel like I ‘belonged’.”

Tickets for the show in Dundee will be available from 20 February and it will open to the public on 4 April as part of V&A Dundee’s Fashion 2020 season.

Last year the site of Mary Quant’s trailblazing fashion boutique Bazaar on London’s King’s Road was recognised with a Blue Plaque.