One look at Mary Quant, with her trademark angular bob and artistically appealing creations, brings to mind the distinctive style and subculture she was instrumental in developing: 1960s mod. The British designer is credited with inventing both the miniskirt and hot pants — two looks that live on today, for better or worse. A Londoner through and through, Quant was born in 1934 in the suburb of Blackheath and opened Bazaar, her first clothing shop, on the fashionable King’s Road in 1955. By 1961, the success of Bazaar allowed Quant and her business partner, Archie McNair, to open a second shop in Knightsbridge. The trendy and sometimes provocative clothes Quant stocked in her shop gained popularity as the women’s liberation movement expanded. Buoyed by success, the young entrepreneur decided to try her hand at design, creating unique pieces that appealed to the city’s free-spirited youth, from plastic knee-high boots to boxy shift dresses and clingy knits. By the mid-’60s, Quant had solidified her place in fashion history by popularizing the micro-mini, as well as the patterned tights that went with it. Eventually Quant expanded her focus to include home goods, makeup and accessories, all of which remained true to her mod roots.
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