Mary Quant review, V&A: the force of nature whose clothes changed the lives of women

Mary Quant having her hair cut by Vidal Sassoon in 1964
Mary Quant having her hair cut by Vidal Sassoon in 1964 Credit:  Ronald Dumont/Hulton Archive

It is a half-truth universally acknowledged that the fashion designer Mary Quant was ahead of her time. But how ahead was she? Was she really the sole author of patterned tights, or of the miniskirt? How mini was mini anyway? Were her window displays really so avant-garde, when Andy Warhol had been decorating department stores on the other side of the Atlantic for years?

What the V&A’s forthcoming retrospective shows about Quant is something more interesting and more complicated than that. She was the product of a particular aspect of her time – a child evacuee who became a freewheeling young impresario in the capital after the war.

Armed with that instinct, she turned out to be a singular interpreter...

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