Close this search box.

quant : the biopic of a revolutionary fashion icon

Revolutionary fashion icon Mary Quant

‘Fashion is for now. Fashion is not frivolous, it is part of being alive today ‘ . 

Screening as part of the Cunard British Film Festival, this is a fascinating, vibrant documentary, directed by Sadie Frost, about the extraordinary life and times of visionary fashion designer Mary Quant (who is still alive at the age of 92).

Quant revolutionised women’s fashion and is credited with the introduction of the mini skirt , pinafore dresses and the use of PVC in fashion among other things. She was adventurous and rebellious and became a global icon, particularly prominent during the 1960’s. .Frost combines archival film footage setting Quant’s life in context, and interviews with her, plus interviews with her son, models who worked with her, photographers etc such as luminaries Kate Moss, Zandra Rhodes, Jasper Conran, the Kinks’s Dave Davies, The Who’s Pete Townsend and British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.

Frost follows Quant’s tomboyish, rather insouciant childhood in Wales, her studies at Goldsmiths College in the 1950s (‘the golden age of couture’ with Dior etc – and how Parisian high fashion was considered the ultimate), through to her eventual retirement from Mary Quant Ltd in the 1980’s. Once grown up, Quant hankered to recapture her youthful freedom and felt quite restricted by the adult clothing of the era. She also knew perfectly what suited her particular face shape (look at the Vidal Sassoon haircut she wore). Frost however concentrates on the 1960’s – Quant’s decisive decade, and how music, fashion and youth culture blended joyously – a revolutionary ‘youthquake’ that included the Beatles and the invention of The Pill.

Frost also looks at the establishment of Quant’s Bazaar shops, full of the short skirts and colourful tights she sold, and how they also exploded and were incredibly successful – women wanted to wear her outfits and other cutting -edge designs as they provided freedom of movement and a chance for self expression. We also see how some of the older generation of the 1950’s/60’s were shocked and disapproving.Quant considered there were three points to women’s clothes –  You get noticed, You look sexy and you feel good.  

The film also looks at her marriage, which would be a crucial point of her career – how she met Alexander Plunket Greene, her future husband, who among other things invested in the first Bazaar boutique for her designs in London’s Kings Road. Greene had the contacts and admin nous, Quant the creativity, curiosity and resilience. Quant was shy and reserved, whereas Greene (a lot taller) was more of a jovial presence. The film includes lots of footage and discussion about Greene, how he saw the business side of things, and there are poignant voice overs by their son Orlando. How did Quant manage to juggle motherhood and being a working mother? 

Mention is also made of Archie McNair who helped Quant and Greene start the business. Quant was a pioneer of global retail distribution and mass marketing eventually expanding to include not only cosmetics but perfumes, footwear ,lingerie, interior furnishing, the ‘Daisy’ doll etc as well as part of her global empire’s brand.

We follow Frost and Quant as Frost takes us on a journey through the 1960’s global expansion of British culture, as exemplified by, but not limited to, The Beatles’ crossing of the Atlantic. Quant visited New York too and took it by storm. We also see how Quant encouraged the individual expression of the models she used in her fashion shows. Enninful suggests she was one of the first to pioneer the use of black models. 

Later, viewers follow the rise of Punk music, the Vietnam war protests and the change in approach to fashion with the growth of hippies, flower power and how this influenced Quant.

Quant continued designing garments until the 1980’s and in 2000 retired from Directorship of her company but still acts as a consultant. Her company now is run from Japan, where there are 200 stores featuring her products.

She was awarded the British Fashion Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 and created a Dame in 2015. Her legacy, and how she has influenced today’s fashion,  is examined.

Recently there have been two major exhibitions of Quant’s work – at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Bendigo in Victoria. 

A thrilling biopic of a revolutionary fashion icon.



Subscribe to our Bi-Weekly Newstetter

Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to receive updates and stay informed about art and cultural events around Sydney. – it’s free!

Want More?

Get exclusive access to free giveaways and double passes to cinema and theatre events across Sydney. 

Scroll to Top