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  • Colin Fraser

QUANT

THREE STARS Mary Quant was the right designer in the right city at just the right time.

DOCUMENTARY UK English #QUANT

Starring Mary Quant, Kate Moss


Timing is everything in, well, everything. For Mary Quant, a young woman with a passion to make exciting clothes people could wear, her timing was exquisite. She stepped out into London of the 1960s just as a ‘youth quake’ was taking place. Spearheaded by a revolution in pop music, every young person wanted to dress exactly the way their parents didn’t, and Mary was on hand to help them do it.


QUANT is a loving tribute to her legacy; ‘the official biography of Britain’s original influencer’. This is the trailblazer who popularised the mini-skirt (some allege she invented it) and signature tights to wear with it. Her colour choices were dynamic, her designs were fresh and exciting, her ability to mix, match and accessorise was without par. Throughout the Sixties, she was the first name in British fashion. She had a knack for designing clothes women wanted to wear. ‘Yeah Baby!’, as Austin Powers, heavily influenced by Quant, would have said.


Director Sadie Frost (BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA) neatly mixes up a plethora of archival footage with recreations including a lookee-likee Quant and assorted talking heads from fashion past and present. It creates a broad view of the designer’s private and professional world, and drops you squarely in the thick of the action. There’s a frisson to the edit that speaks to the times and to Quant’s creativity energy.


Fortunately, the documentary is more than pencil drawings and cutting cloth. As one third of an astute business team, Quant soon realised the cultural value of her brand, and the economic value of licensing her brand. Cue Mary Quant cosmetics, Mary Quant bedding, Mary Quant decor, Mary Quant carpet, Mary Quant wine, Mary Quant stores, Mary Quant Japan. Her name kept the business alive long after short skirts and PVC jackets had become yesterday’s bag, man.


Curiously, the entertaining and uncontroversial QUANT briefly steps out of its comfort zone to acknowledge the acute damage of fast-fashion, a trend whose foundations MQ helped lay and certainly benefited from. Point scored, Frost quickly retreats, unwilling to bite too hard on the hand that feeds. After all, she’s one half of a fashion brand herself and who knows the future? What's more, she’s collaborating with Twiggy on her next project.


Back on safer ground, the takeaway is that if The Beatles were the sound of the Sixties, Quant was the look. As the former editor-in-chief of British Vogue wrote: “(She was) a leader of fashion but also in female entrepreneurship - a visionary who was much more than a great haircut.” Quant died earlier this year, aged 93.


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