If you Quant it, Flaunt it!

Her clothes appealed to both ‘duchesses and typists’.

Her fashion was described as kooky, mad and way out.

Mary Quant – role model for the working woman.

If you’ve read my first ever blog on here, then you’ll know it was all about this lady! To those that haven’t (not to worry), in a nutshell I managed to visit a scaled down Mary Quant exhibition last year at the Fashion and Textiles museum; it featured not only Quant but Terence Conran (the man behind the store Habitat).

The recent exhibition at the V&A museum however was all about Quant and her legacy. What made this exhibition unlike any other I’d visited was that the majority of the collection was on loan to the museum from owners of original Mary Quant pieces. They were displayed beautifully alongside a placard detailing whom the item had come from, where/when they may have purchased it and how much for (honestly it was such a sweet idea!) They then proceeded to display how much the item in question would be worth now and heed my advice when I say this, if you have an original Mary Quant garment lingering about in your loft or your Grandmama’s wardrobe then for heaven’s sake hold on to it!

Or you know, sell it to me so I can at least wear it…

I guess you could say Mary Quant has always inspired my look, from the clothes I wore growing up to the hair on my head. Her whole ethos on why she designed clothes to look a certain way and how she wanted women to feel wearing her pieces, it definitely had an impact on my own wardrobe when forming my own personal style.

She’s quite simply put a revolutionary and a rebel! Apart from celebrating her 90th birthday the day before I visited this exhibition, I might add. Her belief in her own designs extended its way onto the red carpet when visiting Buckingham Palace to collect her OBE. She decided to rock up in front of the world press wearing her own brand from head to toe! This included makeup, tights and even underwear (apparently), all of which could be purchased directly from her store- the ultimate business lady and a badass! See, isn’t she amazing? Not to mention you have her to thank for the mini skirt and waterproof mascara, things you could say we take for granted.

Although her clothes were still expensive, above all she wanted them to be affordable. So she wasn’t quite Primark, but she wasn’t Chanel either!

Walking around the exhibition I see an array of clothes I would still wear to this day. They’re classic and even now they’re edgy! Every pinafore, collared dress and monochrome pattern I see my mind screamed “I simply must have this in my possession!” and if you thought this happened upon viewing the entire collection, then yes you’d be right…

I find the exhibitions at the V&A are always well thought-out and presented beautifully and this one was no exception. I spent a good 2 hours here and if it was a little less crowded I could have easily ogled for a bit longer. Instead after the exhibition (and raiding the store for any goodies I could get my hands on…) I decided to have a jaunt to Kings Road in Chelsea to have a peek at where Mary Quant’s store Bazaar would have stood back in 1955.

Mary Quant. Thank you for sitting in your bedsit designing and creating quirky dresses, tackling the class system and being unconventional!  

As you put it best, “We knew we had to do it ourselves, or nothing would happen at all”      

I A-Dior You!

“In the world of today, haute couture is one of the last repositories of the marvellous” Christian Dior, 1957

This can be read on the wall as you make your exit from visiting Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, which currently resides at the V&A until September. It’s an exhibition that celebrates the life and career of the man that started it all and the 6 key creative directors that have followed in his footsteps. It’s exquisite, stunning and breathtakingly beautiful. For anyone who loves fashion and artistry, this is both an education and a history lesson. But not one that will put you to sleep! No no, quite the opposite.

With more than 200 dresses on show this entire exhibition basically became a shopping list of everything I can’t have, but would hyperventilate uncontrollably if I did.

From Dior himself to his successors; when seeing all the pieces displayed so perfectly together I felt there was one common theme that the Dior brand has stayed true too.

The essence of femininity.  

Christian Dior’s iconic ‘Bar Suit’ which he called ‘La Ligne Corolle’

This was first demonstrated with Christian’s ‘Bar Suit’ (designed in 1947 and made in 1955). This ground-breaking outfit embraced ladies curves (and believe me, from seeing this in person if you didn’t have curves back then you were guaranteed them just by slipping on this fantastic tailored jacket). Upon his first fashion show in 1947 where he debuted this design it was immediately dubbed the New Look. Fast forward to creative director John Galliano (1996 – 2011) bringing extravagance and theatricality to the runway and now to the present day with Maria Grazia Chiuri (Dior’s first ever women creative director, can I get an amen?) Chiuri stands for female empowerment and says with her way of femininity “the message, really, is that there is not one kind of women” (quote from Vogue.com).

Quite simply, whether we’re talking 1955 or 2019 – Dior know women and they know how to dress us.

All of us.  

Walking into the exhibition- from the first moment it felt as though it was lifted straight from the pages of a fairy-tale, almost like Disney’s Cinderella and Dior is your fantastical Fairy Godmother. As you turn each corner; almost holding your breath to see what might await you in the next room, the experience made you feel as though you were permanently in a dreamlike state. Honestly, it’s magical! Although not as emotional as Mcqueen’s Savage Beauty (V&A, 2015), It gave me a lot of the same feelings in terms of the thought and care that has clearly gone into each room.

I’ll be honest, there were so many garments in that exhibition I never ever thought I’d have the opportunity to see… that wasn’t just on the pages of a magazine that is (basically a lot of John Galliano- see the photos above for sheer perfection); and clearly from the literal “oohs” and “ahhs” that emerged from everyone else’s mouths around me I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. It was at a moment like that I realised we were all there for the same reason.

WE J’ADORE DIOR.

At £20 a ticket, honestly it was worth every single penny and more (and if you’re wondering, yes you could take photos!) If you are contemplating a visit, unfortunately lovelies the run is currently sold out however (like the Savage Beauty exhibition) they do release a limited number of tickets at the V&A itself. Also, do keep your eyes peeled online as I’ve noticed they have been releasing more tickets for museum lates!