Mary Quant celebrated in V&A Dundee’s first fashion photoshoot

An iconic photograph of fashion designer Mary Quant taken in 1966 has been recreated by V&A Dundee, ahead of the opening of its first major fashion exhibition celebrating the influential designer.

The new exhibition pays tribute to Mary Quant's design legacy. Picture: Aleksandra Modrzjewska
The new exhibition pays tribute to Mary Quant's design legacy. Picture: Aleksandra Modrzjewska

Quant is credited with revolutionising fashion, overturning the dominance of Paris couturiers and creating an influential legacy.

The new images, shot on location inside and outside Scotland’s first design museum before it temporarily closed, feature new textiles created by five emerging designers inspired by her work.

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Lucy Carrie, Emer Dobson, Sandra Junele, Humaira Khan and Jane Neave, all third year textile design students at the University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, were presented with an opportunity to work with V&A Dundee earlier this year as part of a project titled 21st Century Quant, examining Quant’s design legacy.

The aspiring designers were asked to create textiles inspired by Quant’s 1960s rebellion, but also that responded to the big issues facing today’s fashion world, exploring themes such as climate change, consumerism, and racism.

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The textiles were then transformed into four dresses made to the exact specification of an original Mary Quant Butterick dressmaking pattern. The knitted cape designed by textile design student Sandra Junele was inspired by Quant’s famous Alligator cape, and references the importance of repurposing clothing waste as a way to tackle problems caused by fast fashion and over-consumption.

Emer Dobson created a repeat pattern using the outline of non-recyclable packaging to highlight the problem of sustainability and the issue of hidden waste.

She said: “I tried to think about how the last 60 years would have changed Mary Quant’s design process, her aesthetic and her ethos. The main thing I took from my research was that she wanted to design for everyone, was forward-thinking and quite a revolutionary.

Sophie McKinlay, director of programme at V&A Dundee said: “Mary Quant started out as a young art student, going on to become one of Britain’s best-known designers with a unique vision to use fashion as a way to communicate new attitudes and ideas.

"All of us at V&A Dundee have enjoyed taking a fresh look at Mary Quant’s legacy through the lens of these five young designers as they embark on their own design careers. We are delighted to celebrate Mary Quant opening at V&A Dundee with this inspiring and unique collaboration.”

Professor Anita Taylor, dean at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design said: “21st Century Quant has been such an exciting project for our textile design students – their final designs boldly reimagine the spirit of Quant and present a fresh and feisty take on her transformational legacy and reflect and respond to current issues of climate change, social justice, and sustainability in the fashion industry. Congratulations to our emerging leaders of style.”

The 21st Century Quant garments will be on display at V&A Dundee for the opening week of Mary Quant, on show outside the exhibition entrance.

The exhibition will also feature the stories of women who made outfits from Mary Quant’s dressmaking patterns, gathered through V&A Dundee’s #SewQuant campaign, as well as a new film looking at contemporary female designers who, like Quant, are forging their own way through today’s rapidly shifting fashion industry.

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