Remembering fashion designer Mary Quant by just one woman’s beloved costume

As It Comes about6:36Remembering trend designer Mary Quant through a person woman’s beloved costume

Jenny Fenwick is on the lookout ahead to viewing her dress once more.

The Bingley, England, female bought a Mary Quant unique — scandalously cut above the knee — in the mid-’60s when she was 17 many years outdated. In 2018, she donated it to the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum for its travelling retrospective show of Quant’s function.

Quant was a innovative fashion designer whose colourful, hot miniskirts epitomized Swinging London in the 1960s and influenced youth society around the globe. She died this 7 days at the age of 93.

Fenwick’s gown, in the meantime, has been exhibited all more than the entire world. The exhibit will be in Scotland in Could, and Fenwick intends to be there.

She spoke with As It Happens host Nil Köksal about the costume and Quant’s affect on the planet of trend. Below is section of their discussion.

Jenny, I know you did not know Mary Quant individually, but I believe, like a great deal of folks, you might have felt like you experienced a extremely personal relationship to her. So what did you believe when you heard that she experienced handed away?

I was definitely much more upset than I assumed I would be. It did essentially convey tears to my eyes due to the fact she’d performed such a massive section in my teenage years in terms of her work as a designer. 

An older woman with a bright red bob smirks and looks to one side.
British vogue designer Mary Quant, whose miniskirts and tights revolutionized women’s style and youth culture in the ’60s, has died. (Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Photos)

How aged were you when you acquired your to start with Mary Quant?

I was about 17…. It was Sheffield Town in the north of England. And in Sheffield there was a store named Peter Robinson’s, which experienced a department that was specifically for up and coming designers.

I imagined: I just appreciate that dress. I enjoy the color. I adore the duration.

Well, tell me all about it.

The duration was over the knee, which was truly fairly unheard of at that time.

Nicely, your voice dropped a very little bit as you explained. It truly is like even now you think it is really a tiny little bit racy.

We did truly shorten it even additional.

And what did it truly feel like the first time you put it on?

Effectively, from what I can try to remember, astounding! [chuckles]. Due to the fact I might in no way bought nearly anything like that in advance of. It was just fully unique.

A black and white image of a smiling young woman with short bangs, sitting and resting her face on her hand, wearing a short, long-sleeved dress, and white boots just below the knees.
Quant at Heathrow Airport on London on May well 8, 1977. (Dove/Each day Convey/Hulton Archive/Getty Visuals)

Did you know about Mary Quant when you went to the shop that working day?

Of course, I’d study [about her] in publications. Due to the fact I normally bought Honey magazine, and there ended up often articles or blog posts about designers, and Mary Quant was a single. And mainly because she seemed as she did — with her bobbed hair and her dark eye make-up — she stood out, actually.

[It’s] exciting to listen to about her and understand about her, and, you know, the sort of businesswoman she was and what she was accomplishing with manner at that time.

Oh, yes. And not just the clothes. It was the make-up. Tights [were] suddenly the detail to have on if you’ve got a quite quick skirt. And of course she brought out masses of colors, styles, factors that we would in no way had as a teenage female before.

Five white mannequins wearing dresses cut above the knee.
A standard perspective of the Mary Quant exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2019. (Nicky J. Sims/Getty Images)

What had been your outfits like before you purchased this magic gown?

I was always wanting to be a little little bit distinctive, but my garments have been in all probability a very little little bit on the common facet. I signify, naturally skirts underneath the knee, since at faculty you were not allowed to use anything at all that was previously mentioned the knee. And probably the garments ended up a minor little bit far more like what my mum would be seeking me to wear — perfectly, significantly [what] my father wished me to wear.

What did your father say about the dress?

He wasn’t delighted. He wasn’t pleased at all. “That’s far much too small. Considerably way too small.” 

What did you say?

Perfectly, I need to have received absent with it, due to the fact I wore the dress fairly a couple periods.

Now, I think he’d learned that likely he wasn’t truly going to get pretty much and telling me not to wear … since my mum did in fact help me shorten it.

How a lot did you shorten it?

It was possibly a couple of inches or so. But the V&A said they would maintain it like that. They weren’t going to lengthen it again to what it was at first. They wanted to preserve it short … because that was the history of the gown — as well as the crimson wine down the entrance.

It appears like you and this dress, Jenny, had a excellent everyday living together.

Oh, we experienced exciting. Yeah. Yes, absolutely experienced pleasurable.

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Is your model nowadays nonetheless affected by Mary Quant?

Maybe, yes. But I consider, because the apparel hadn’t been as they had been when she made them, she was much more — what should really we say? — visible. She was additional, perfectly, innovative.

What do you believe of vogue these days?

Effectively, I consider and keep up with it. [laughs] I’m now in my 70s … but I you should not like to gown as however I am.

But I feel it really is fantastic that, perfectly, young adults now can convey by themselves with their garments as they desire to. In all probability not as limited as we were being.

Do you however wear minis?

No!

Occur on.

No! No, I you should not. No. No.

I like, actually … mid-duration with boots. The dress I have acquired on now is kind of beneath the knees. But, no, I wouldn’t go higher than my knees.