Image credit: Mary Quant and models at the launch of the quantafoot collection, 1967. © PA Prints 2008.
The Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A closes in February, so this is your last chance to plan a visit. From miniskirts and hot pants to vibrant tights and makeup, discover how Mary Quant launched a fashion revolution on the British high street, with over 200 garments and accessories, including unseen pieces from the designer's personal archive. The museum has created a showreel of the exhibition highlights (below) and is also offering a free Mary Quant pattern for download - the 'Georgie' dress.
In Selvedge Issue 86 Renaissance, previewing the exhibition, Dani Trew Mary discussed Quant’s use of jersey and double jersey, exploring how this ‘new’ fabric made possible Quant’s accessible and comfortable designs.
“Quant originally used a double jersey from Corah’s of Leicester, but later turned to bonded jersey – an even more economical way of producing a stretchy but stable fabric. The Mary Quant jersey garments that will be on display in the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition of her work, are single wool jersey, heat-bonded to a knitted acetate backing. Shirley Shurville, Mary Quant’s Assistant, described the moment she first saw this material. Remembering how Quant had returned from America and handed her a scrap of the fabric, asking her to source a British supplier. As luck would have it, that very same day a representative from Ames Mills, came to the reception asking to see her. She was ‘delightfully surprised’ when he took out the only sample of fabric in his briefcase and it ‘turned out to be bonded jersey’."
Image credit: Jersey dresses, Mary Quant, 1966 – 67, UK. Museum nos. T.354-1974, T.354-1974, T.79–2018. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
"Mary Quant was by no means the only designer in the 60s and 70s who relied heavily on jersey. But as Jenny Lister, the co-curator of the exhibition has suggested, through canny marketing – of herself as much as her clothes – and by adapting fashionable looks for the mass-market, Quant became the figurehead of the jersey boom."
"Focusing in on her use of the fabric elucidates many of the central stylistic, social, technological, and economic factors of the period. The miniskirts and modernist silhouettes of the 60s, and the later cling and swing of the 70s, were all – quite literally – shaped by the meteoric rise of jersey. This rise also constituted the last boom of the British textiles industry, stimulating demand for cheap labour, draining investment away from the weaving industry, and resulting in the eventual search for cheaper textile manufacturing outside of the UK entirely.”
For the full article, you can purchase a back issue of Issue 86 here.
For more information about the exhibition, visit www.vam.ac.uk