Gail of Is This Mutton has already said that one of the best things about blogging is meeting fellow fashion bloggers and she is so right. Yes, it was last Saturday when we met to look at the Mary Quant exhibition, but we also spent much of the time talking practically non-stop. And before I launch into what I thought of the Quant I’d also like to say that I think the connections we make with you, the readers of our blogs, is another ‘best’ thing about blogging. All your responses to posts are very much appreciated.
Anyway, Mary Quant. Well, as you know Mary Quant is the iconic 60s fashion designer who brought modernity to the masses with the mini-skirt, tights, pinafore, cut-out and A-line dresses. Actually note that it was Courreges, in the very early 60s, who introduced that shortest of short skirts (a revolutionary 4 inches above the knee). What Mary Quant did, though, was to bring her vision and her designs to the mass market making that clean, modern, young, short-skirted look we associate with the 60s available to us all.
However, what fascinated both Gail and me, was that her early designs seemed, to our eyes, to be quite tame and in such bland colours. And I think that brought home to us that revolutionary designs do not arrive suddenly, they develop. I mean, do you remember what ordinary women wore? Because they did not wear the beautiful 50s vintage nipped-in-at-the-waist look we see so often on Instagram. No, going out to a department store or to the nearest big town, women wore a plain tailored wool suit, a voluminous wool coat and one of those hats that perched on top of your heads – glamorous, it was not. I went round the ground floor of the exhibition thinking, oh, this is not as exciting and mouth-watering as I expected it to be. And I didn’t take any photos downstairs.
But upstairs – oh yes, there was that Quant look.
The colours! The tights! The berets! And below there’s the plastic mac!
And the pinafore dress! I bought a camel pinafore in the very early 60s, which I wore with a black polo neck wool jumper and, black stockings! Tights were later! Both my parents and my friends thought the outfit was hideous, but I loved it!
And in the late 60s and early 70s – do you remember that quite busy material? I used to wear lots of dresses with variations of that particular dense look.
More plastic macs!
And don’t forget the maxi! I wore many variations of the maxi.
And I love this.
In my late teens (1963-5) I bought a pleated ginger wool skirt and matching jacket from my local department store. Was it from Mary Quant’s Ginger Group? Could have been.
At the end, we both agreed that the clothes on display were not quite as wearable as we thought they would be, but it was, nevertheless, a fascinating exhibition.
What did I wear to London?
I wore a charity shop skirt I’ve had for years, an exceedingly old black jumper and a Hennes (H&M) thin jacket, topped by my black homburg hat bought in Toulouse 3 years ago, plus a bargain of a coat found in a charity shop and bought for £30, which still had its label saying £160! My shoes were flat lace-ups but so comfortable, and quite quirky as the blue you can just see on the side is an impression of the bones of your feet!
The V&A had good food and a very tempting shop (which I resisted!) and it does these exhibitions so well. Don’t forget that there is a Dior exhibition on at the same time, although sadly I believe all the tickets are gone. However, I think there are always tickets handed back so you can try. While I didn’t go as overboard as I thought I would with the Quant exhibition the Dior was amazing. I went earlier this year, and here are a couple of pics for you to see.
Isn’t it lovely. And then this.
I decided that I wanted this skirt!
Actually – think how tiny you’d have to be to wear this displayed outfit. What was refreshing about the Quant was many of the dresses had been lent or gifted to the V&A for the exhibition by ordinary women who had worn the dress, so they looked so much bigger than the above and – more normal.
Finally, we got on so well, me and Gail. We tried a selfie! And didn’t quite achieve it!
That’s all for now, more posts next week 🙂
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper