Let me tell you about a girl named Mary. Or rather, let me not, seeing as it might just spoil this totally amazing read for you and that would most certainly be a travesty. Not only because it details the incredible and fascinating life of one of the most influential and defining designers of our time but also tells the tale (in her own words) of an all round good girl done good.
The thing that surprised me least about this woman is that she likes to have fun, and lots of it. Good clean fun, I might add, which only makes her stories better – no ‘tripping out man’ nor ‘summer of love’ shenanigans here, thank you very much. It’s the best of the swinging Sixties and the best of fashion all rolled into one.
Oh, and anyone who surmises that most of the people who hold the title of ‘World’s Best Dressed Woman’ are in actual fact ‘squares’ is alright by me – just goes to show that not a lot has changed since the Sixties either….not naming any names mind.
I already knew me and Mary had something in common. We both attended Goldsmiths College and loved every minute of being there. Obviously I was aware of this prior to my application, and as well as being enthralled by the long list of impressive alumni – John Cale being just one of them (I mean, hello?!) who also happened to be married to another favourite designer of mine, Betsey Johnson, but I digress…., I was eager to be part of an institution that practically breeds (or maybe it just attracts) individuals. I knew I needed to be amongst these people. Trust me when I tell you the infectious creativity at Goldsmiths cavorts controversy and if anything that Quantified mini skirt did set some tongues wagging!
Quant’s passion is so utterly palpable throughout the book, I literally could not put it down. I was engrossed in her thought patterns, how she churned out design after fabulous design, picking up those essential industry skills as she went. For me, having just started out on this path, this was a must read at the best possible time. I can’t tell you how much Mary’s words have inspired and also comforted me – I now realise I don’t have to know it all in five minutes flat, how the hell could I? This is an industry that takes years to understand but Mary did it all with such abandon it’s hard not to get carried away with her free spirited approach to life and fashion.
I lapped up every word of this autobiography and subsequently found myself trawling the internet for original pieces in my price range, which led me to wonder why Quant isn’t still a big hit designer like she was back in her heyday of the Sixties and Seventies. Initially I was quite saddened that her brand hasn’t evolved like others but ultimately I feel her contribution to fashion is still so prominent today it hardly matters. You just need to look at the shapes, details and skirt lengths to realise that virtually nobody can match Quant when it comes to influencing current and I dare say future trends.
Her impact on fashion is truly astonishing and I for one am just grateful to have shared a little bit of creative space with her, albeit it a few generations apart. I’m pretty sure some of that Sixties Quant vibe is still lingering about those chequered Goldsmiths hallways and long may it last.
A fashionable woman wears clothes; the clothes don’t wear her.