Mary Mary Quant Contrary

If you know me you’ll know I’m obsessed (LITERALLY OBSESSED) with fashion. More specifically fashion from the 1950’s and 60’s. Flowing skirts aplenty, gorgeous tailoring, pinafores and polka dots. Oh my goodness. I’m going to have to stop right there and have a sit down. The ‘Mad Men’ fangirl within me can’t cope right now thinking about all these clothes.

So you can imagine my excitement when I got to visit the beautiful Swinging London exhibition this week. It’s currently on display at the Fashion and Textiles Museum, (a short walk from London Bridge station) and will be on display until June 2nd. It’s an exhibition that celebrates the British high street revolutionaries Mary Quant and Terence Conran.

Sir Terence Conran and Dame Mary Quant
Source: Fashion and Textiles Museum website

Wait… I’m sorry. But did I just hear some of you just ask me, “But dear Quinn, who are this glorious people you speak of?!” Well fear not lovelies I will explain in a mere sentence (or two) that will save you scouring google.

Fashion designer and legend Dame Mary Quant (apart from having one of the most iconic bob haircuts ever) is the fantastic human you have to thank for the MINI SKIRT (I know. Right?) One of her favourite statement pieces that she’s ever designed is the ‘Banana Split’ mini dress; which I will show you later. But she basically revolutionised the British high street! – We have a lot to thank her for (THANK YOU MARY!)

Designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran is the man behind the beautiful home furnishing store we know as Habitat. He made stylish home decor available to the masses! His ethos was to make designs that would “grow old gracefully and slip seamlessly into peoples lives and give them years of pleasure”. (Side note: you may also think “Conran, now that rings a bell!” you may know his son’s work as one of the many designers at Debenhams- Mum I’m looking at you here!) 

Now we’ve all had a history lesson, I shall move on. I bought my tickets beforehand, but there were plenty of walk-ups so if you wanted to head midweek I’m sure you wouldn’t have a problem waltzing straight in! However if you’d like to be super organised and buy your tickets beforehand, check if the 241 offer through Timeout London is still available as it’s an utter bargain!!

Tickets purchased and dressed in all my retro glory, off we went for a jaunt!

It’s a rather condensed exhibition, nothing as vast as what you may see at the V&A; whom are also choosing to honour Mary Quant with an exhibition this year (Starting April 6th, if you’re dying to know). However it was super quaint and displayed with a lot of thought and care for the pieces.

My favourite ensembles in the exhibition.
I’ll take them both in all colours. Thank you muchly.

The downstairs floor in particular is filled with some of Quant’s most iconic work including the banana split dress, which to this day still looks like a masterpiece. This dress will always be in fashion because of its shape and its simplistic nature and as Mary herself once said “you can make it as exciting as you want”. Pair it with some brightly coloured tights- as the lady herself would have done and you’re good to go my friend!

Apologies for the horrendous quality!
Photos are allowed but do remember to turn off the flash
(you don’t want to ruin the fabric)

I would say if anything there could have been a few more pieces for the Terence Conran sections of the exhibition. As although there was a lot to see and was well integrated with the clothing almost into little scenes, my eyes were definitely more fixated on Mary Quant’s striking fashions.

However if you’re a fan of 60’s London, fashion history, furnishings, Mary Quant or you just simply want a lovely afternoon exploring whilst listening to fantastic soundtrack, then this exhibition is definitely a must-see!

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