Mary Quant dies at 93 — the fashion designer styled the Swinging Sixties Quant made playful clothes for young modern women they could wear to work and "run to the bus in." Her London shop was an epicenter of youth culture that popularized hot pants and miniskirts.

Mary Quant, fashion designer who styled the Swinging Sixties, dies at 93

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Mary Quant sculpted the style of the swinging '60s.


SUMMERS: The fashion designer who popularized the miniskirt, hot pants and other emblematic looks of the era has died. She was 93. NPR's Neda Ulaby has our remembrance.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: You can see how Mary Quant revolutionized British fashion in the early 1960s by looking at newsreels from the era.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: An audience of nearly 800 next saw some of the collection of Mary Quant and quickly appreciated what the experts mean when they say that she has jolted England out of its conventional attitude to clothes.

ULABY: Black-and-white footage shows models prancing in mini dresses with pockets, shiny raincoats made from PVC and candy-colored tights with matching flats.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Still in her 20s, Mary has a tremendous flair for designing.

ULABY: Quant was fascinated by fashion even as a child during World War II. The daughter of Welsh schoolteachers, she found conventional children's garments stifling.


MARY QUANT: I didn't like clothes the way they were. I didn't like the clothes that I inherited from a cousin. They weren't me.

ULABY: That's Quant in a 1985 interview on Thames TV. She remembered being struck by the style of another little girl in a dance class.


QUANT: She was very complete head to toe. She was it that has always been in my head - black tights, white ankle socks and black patent leather shoes with a button on top.

ULABY: And let's not forget the skirt.


QUANT: The skirt was minutely short.

ULABY: Quant wanted fashion to be affordable and wearable, clothes, she said, a young woman could play, work and run for the bus in. It was sold in J.C. Penney's (ph) and modeled by British it girls Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton.


QUANT: They used makeup in a completely different way. They used their face as a canvas and then they painted on top, often using the things in the - absolutely opposite part of the face they were intended. And this liveness and this exciting approach was so intriguing. I wanted to rationalize that into the sort of size thing you could put in a handbag and carry around with you.


ULABY: People who worked for Mary Quant included the first manager of the Rolling Stones - that's how cool she was - and with Vidal Sassoon to create his signature angular bob.


QUANT: I think fashion anticipates. It seems to get there first.

ULABY: Mary Quant certainly did - a dame commander of the Order of the British Empire, she insisted that fashion is not frivolous but part of being alive today.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.