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Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary (touring)

Start Date 20 March 2021
End Date 11 July 2021
Venue Bendigo Art Gallery
Location Bendigo, Australia
Curator Jenny Lister and Stephanie Wood (V&A)
It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior and Mary Quant.
Ernestine Carter

In March 2021, Bendigo Art Gallery will present Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary, a retrospective exhibition on the iconic British fashion designer Dame Mary Quant.

Bendigo is the exclusive Australian venue for this exhibition from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The exhibition explores the years between 1955 and 1975, when Mary Quant revolutionised the high street, harnessing the youthful spirit of the sixties and new mass production techniques to create a new look for women. Drawing on the V&A’s extensive fashion holdings, Dame Mary Quant’s Archive and private collections, the exhibition brings together over 110 garments as well as accessories, cosmetics, sketches, photographs and even Quant’s own line of fashion dolls, known as Daisy dolls, a rival to Barbie.

Quant personified the energy and fun of swinging London and was a powerful role model for the working woman. Challenging conventions, she popularised the miniskirt, colourful tights and tailored trousers – encouraging a new age of feminism. 

Quant’s experimental shop, Bazaar, opened on Chelsea’s King’s Road in 1955 and provided a showcase for her designs. Inspiring young women to rebel against the traditional styles worn by their mothers and grandmothers, Quant soon grew her tiny boutique into an international brand.

Quant boldly capitalised on the opportunities presented by the international demand for British fashion. Her wholesale company, Mary Quant’s Ginger Group, established in 1963, saw her designs sold in British department stores and equivalent retailers in Australia, America, Canada and Europe. Australian women browsed Quant’s designs in Myer and Georges in Melbourne, Mark Foy’s in Sydney and FitzGerald’s in Hobart, and later, sewed their own at home using Butterick patterns. Quant’s coveted cosmetics, unmistakably emblazoned with the daisy motif, were seen in The Australian Women’s Weekly and Dolly magazines. Quant quickly became the woman that made fashion less exclusive and more accessible to a new generation.

Ahead of her time in marketing and promotion, Quant herself was the embodiment of the label. Her distinctive, photogenic style and playful energy made her the ultimate ambassador for the brand. From small boutique to international label, Quant revolutionised fashion with energy, flair and rebellion. Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary provides an unrivalled insight into the career of one of Britain’s most revolutionary and important fashion designers.

An exhibition organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.