The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has some really exciting exhibitions and fashion seems to be something they excel at. I really enjoyed the Alexander McQueen one they held a couple of years ago. It was amazing to see such skill in tailoring which McQueen was known for, and that his fashion house continues, at close hand.
Currently on at the V&A is a Mary Quant retrospective. This was a name I grew up with. I was aware of her clothing but as a child only took a passing interest in it, and certainly didn’t appreciate the creativity. On a recent visit it was great to see all of the pieces on display and the influence they had on the Sixties. Most of the clothing on show has been donated by the owner and there are some interesting notes about why they bought it, how much it cost and for what occasion they wore it. I particularly liked the quirky items including the cricket jumper dress and admire the interesting use of synthetics such as pvc and crimplene which, while a big no no now, was the height of sophistication at the time. Makes me break out in a sweat just thinking about it.
Mary Quant herself was and still is a style icon, sporting her famous bob created by Vidal Sassoon. She was a massive influence on sixties fashion, creating relatively affordable pieces in comparison to her peers and teaming up with shop and catalogue brands to bring high fashion to the masses. Something that is fairly common now but almost unheard of then.
To me Mary Quant means make-up. When I was about 12 years old I developed an obsession with nail varnish. A school friend had an older sister who worked at a cosmetics factory and she would bring back samples for us – we would spend hours painting our nails in different colours. My favourite was Plum Gone by Miners but the creme de la creme was Mary Quant. Occasionally we would get our hands on the much coveted little round bottle of Mary Quant nail varnish. So glamorous.
After I tried the nail varnish I was intrigued by the rest of the range. It was so different to anything you could get at Woolworths and so out of my reach financially. But one glorious day my aunt gave me a tin of Mary Quant Crayons; she could have given me the moon and I wouldn’t have been happier. I remember spending ages just opening the tin and admiring them before I ever attempted to use them. Realistically they were not that great but the concept and the hype around them was amazing.
Funnily enough a few years later I got a summer job at the same cosmetics factory as my friend’s sister and although my love for make-up was never diminished, my love for nail varnish did very quickly after working on the production line. It constantly broke down with bottles spilling everywhere when it got stuck on the conveyor belt. I vowed then and there never to buy another bottle again.
The exhibition is great and well worth a visit if you want to learn about sixties fashion or just take a trip down memory lane.
It is on now until 16 Feb 2020. For booking and more information click HERE
This post is not sponsored. Entry fee paid by me.