Fashion On Film: Mary Quant (1930-2023)

Mary Quant, the beloved British fashion designer and pop icon, has died at age 93. With her trendspotting skills and pixie-like charm, Quant conquered the fickle world of fashion and helped usher in the youthquake during the swinging sixties. Her fashions were worn by some of the world’s most renowned models, including Twiggy and Patti Boyd. Today she is rightfully remembered as one of fashions most influential artists, but she also made an impact on the movies.

Early in her career, Quant collaborated with film producer, cinematographer, and editor Michael Margetts, who went on to shoot the Oscar-winning concert film Woodstock (1970). According to Quant’s 1966 biography Quant by Quant, the Puritan Fashion Group suggested she (along with British designers  Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin) team up with Margetts to produce a short film showcasing her work that was eventually called The London Look: Youthquake (1965). The 12-minute film (shared below) features some of the most iconic fashion models of the decade including Kari-Ann Moller, who would later appear on the cover of Roxy Music’s debut album, along with Jenny Boyd (sister to Pattie Boyd and Mick Fleetwood’s eventual wife) and Jan de Souza. The models bounce around London sporting Quant’s innovative fashions and eventually end up dancing the night away at the Ad Lib club where The Beatles had celebrated the premiere of A Hard Day’s Night (1964) a year earlier. The film aired on television and was shown in clothing boutiques where it captured the imagination of youthful customers, eventually reaching 50 million viewers. The London Look: Youthquake transported high fashion from reserved runways onto the city streets, making it appear fun, fresh, and undeniably modern. This short film about Quant and her designs, along with others, helped secure her place in fashion history.

Quant’s fashion designs also appeared in a handful of noteworthy feature films such as the Joe Meek and Lance Comfort’s mod musical Live it Up! aka Sing and Swing (1963) where pop singers Patsy Ann Noble and Kim Roberts, along with model Jan de Souza, can be seen wearing Quant. In The Wild Affair (1963) actress Nancy Kwan sports a stunning Quant wardrobe. And in Ferry Cross the Mersey (1963), which was produced by The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, signer Cilla Black was dressed by Quant.

In The Haunting (1963), Claire Bloom plays the seductive and intimidating Theodora while wearing Quant, and Charlotte Rampling can be seen wearing Quant as the cold and calculating Meredith in Georgy’s Girl (1966). Lynn Redgrave also wore a Quant dress in promotional photos for the film, and Jane Asher wore Quant while promoting Alfie (1966). Audrey Hepburn can be seen in Quant during Stanley Donen’s bittersweet romantic comedy Two For the Road (1967), and the style-conscious actress continued to wear Quant designs after filming ended.

A small sampling of Mary Quant’s iconic fashions associated with cinema.

Mary Quant’s contribution to the ‘60s was profound. It has become impossible to imagine the decade without her miniskirts and colorful jersey dresses. She clothed some of the screen’s most stunning women and in doing so left behind an impressive string of film contributions that remind us how important the art of costume design can be. In a talented designer’s hands, a carefully crafted collar or revealing skirt can transform the world and leave a lasting impact.

Complete list of films discussed and where you can find them!

The London Look: Youthquake (1965) posted below
Live it Up! aka Sing and Swing (1963) stream on Youtube
The Wild Affair (1963) Purchase the DVD
Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965) Stream on the Internet Archive
The Haunting (1963) Purchase the Blu-ray or stream on Amazon
Georgy’s Girl (1966) Purchase the Blu-ray or stream on Amazon
Alfie (1966) Purchase the DVD or stream on Amazon
Two For the Road (1967) Purchase the Blu-ray or stream on Amazon
Woodstock (1970) Purchase the Blu-ray or stream on Amazon
A Hard Day’s Night (1964) Purchase the Blu-ray or stream on Amazon

The London Look: Youthquake (1965) featuring Mary Quant fashions and produced by Michael Margetts