The mini and the Mini

Hearing in the news recently about the death of Mary Quant aged 93, I decided to write this post about my memories of the ‘Swinging Sixties’.

I became a teenager in 1964 so my teenage years were also the years of revolutionary changes in fashion. I and my friends devoured magazines like Honey, wished we were older so that we could live in London and shop on Carnaby Street and we wore short skirts and dresses mostly made by our mums as we didn’t live near any big shops. Twiggy was our idol, we watched ‘Top of the Pops’ and ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ every week and longed to be there dancing along with the trendily dressed girls we could see on our TVs.

Mary Quant was an early ambassador of the ‘above the knee’ look, sporting a knee-skimming skirt during a visit to New York as early as 1960. As a designer she enjoyed adapting minimal styles which subverted traditional social and gender roles – short hemlines suited her simple shift dresses, which were often modelled on schoolgirl pinafore dresses. With a growing presence in the media, Quant played a central role in the adoption of the miniskirt by contemporary women.

She later said: “It was the girls on the King’s Road [during the ”Swinging London” scene] who invented the miniskirt. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘Shorter, shorter.”’ She gave the miniskirt its name, after her favourite make of car, the Mini.

Which leads me to one of the other huge fashion trends of the 1960’s – the Mini. The revolutionary design of the Mini was created by Sir Alec Issigonis and was officially announced to the public on 26 August 1959. Some 2,000 cars had already been sent abroad and were displayed that day in almost 100 countries, The original Mini is considered an icon of 1960s British popular culture. We (my friends and I) longed to be old enough to drive a car and to own a mini.

Well, I never did own a Mini, live in London or shop on Carnaby Street but it was an amazing time to be a teenager and to dream.

R.I.P. Mary Quant 1930 – 2023.

Credit to Google, Google Images and Wikipedia.

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