Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary opens at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary opens at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

A major retrospective on the work of Dame Mary Quant, who died last month aged 93, is set to open at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on Saturday 20 May, the culture and sport charity Glasgow Life has confirmed.

Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary is the final chance to see the international exhibition, which features over 100 garments, accessories, cosmetics, and photographs drawn from the V&A’s extensive collections, Dame Mary Quant’s archive and many private collections.

Focusing on the years from 1955, when Quant opened her experimental boutique Bazaar on the King’s Road, Chelsea, through the ‘Swinging Sixties’ when Mary Quant was awarded her OBE, to 1975, it showcases the period when Quant revolutionised the high street with subversive and playful designs for a younger generation.

Heather Tilbury Phillips, who was a Director of Mary Quant Limited and Advisor to the V&A on the exhibition, was joined by the curator of the exhibition for V&A, Jenny Lister, at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to see final preparations being made ahead of the exhibition opening this weekend.

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life, said:

“Mary Quant was a ground-breaking designer, whose energy, work ethic and can-do attitude changed the face of fashion in Britain at a time when society was rapidly changing for women. Her accessible, affordable designer fashion changed the way people looked at the world and empowered an entire generation to look good and feel great.

“The V&A has curated an exhibition that demonstrates Mary Quant’s influence, which has equal appeal to those who wore her clothes and to an entirely new generation who are discovering her for the first time. Glasgow Life Museums are very pleased to host the final outing of this wonderful exhibition.”

Jenny Lister, co-curator of Mary Quant at the V&A, added:

“I’m thrilled that we can present another chance to see the Mary Quant exhibition in Scotland and I’m so Iooking forward to seeing the iconic Mary Quant dresses on display in the amazing building at Kelvingrove. It will be the perfect way of celebrating Dame Mary’s magnificent contribution to fashion.”

Heather Tilbury Phillips, former Director of Mary Quant Limited and Advisor to the V&A on the exhibition, said:

“I know how delighted Mary would have been that the exhibition is here at this wonderful venue in Glasgow. We very much enjoyed several highly successful and inspirational trips to Scotland together visiting fabric and knitwear producers and leading retailers. Harris Tweed, Paisley designs, plaids, definitive checks and tartans in Viyella often featured strongly in her collections and the vibrant fashion shows and cosmetic launches were always such fun, stimulating many happy memories.”

Sections of the exhibition look at the shift from couture to mass market designer fashion with the launch of the Ginger Group; how she moved fashion forward by going back and embracing the textile industry at the very heart of British manufacturing; the way Mary Quant ‘borrowed from the boys’ and manipulated menswear to challenge the conventional gender stereotypes of the day.

Famous for popularising super high hem lines, the exhibition goes on to explore the story of the miniskirt, dressmaking patterns, make-up, and accessories that all showcased the iconic daisy logo.

Among over 100 objects, visitors can see the pioneering ‘Wet Collection’ PVC rainwear that featured on an iconic edition of Vogue, a collection of Daisy dolls created in Scotland by Lanarkshire based Model Toys, and the dress she wore when receiving her OBE in 1966 and the innovative jersey dress.

The exhibition also features stories of women who responded to the V&A’s #WeWantQuant campaign, a public call-out to locate rare garments by Quant and collect personal stories, memories and photographs from real people who wore her clothes, including several Scottish contributors.

The themes of dressmaking, marketing and fashion across the decades are explored in detail and provide the focus for an innovative public programme of demonstrations, workshops and talks that will complement the exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Rebecca Quinton, Curator of Dress at Glasgow Life Museums, said:

“Dame Mary Quant’s contribution to British fashion was truly trailblazing and marked a radical change in the way clothing was designed and marketed both in the United Kingdom and internationally. It’s fantastic to be the culminating host of the exhibition tour and to share Quant’s amazing vision with our visitors.”

Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary opens on Saturday 20 May and runs until 22 October 2023, tickets are £8.50, concession £6.50, children under 12 are free. The exhibition is organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.