MARY QUANT: Genius in action at London’s swinging V&A!

THERE’S  magic at a Mary Quant exhibition this Spring.  Quant is revealed as a genius of the Modern age in an exemplary experience at London’s V&A. Curator Jenny Lister, captures the enchantment and excitement inspired by the British designer just over half a century ago.  

quant-header

At the V&A Jenny Lister shows Quant in action, illustrating  her skills and success, with  spectacular displays of clothes from fans’ collections and donations; stylish people who’ve loved Quant since before influential 60s journalist Ernestine Carter wrote:

It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior and Mary Quant.

Travelling with Quant and her husband Alexander Plunket Green from Chester to Manchester airport in 1981, I was meeting a Fashion phenomenon.  After 25 years of continuing international success APG spontaneously praised her exceptional talent,

Mary and her team are like French couturiers. We don’t take great whacks out of the business. Our first motive is a passionate interest in the goods”.

My play for Radio 4, Thoroughly Modern Mary dramatises these early years, questioning the power balance between the Plunket Greens.  At the V&A there is new evidence to back my plotting. In dynamic film footage the couple are seen in their offices and studios running their international Fashion house in the 1960s.  APG is filmed directing staff, guiding them to assist in the operation, while Mary researches, designs, philosophises about Fashion and its impact on society. He is obviously in her thrall as he witnesses genius in action!

It was the British Post Office which confirmed Quant’s greatness when they put a little black dress on a series of stamps in 2009. No one was more surprised than Mary Quant when she found herself being celebrated with 20th century Modernists but this is exactly where she should be positioned.

british-design-classics-stamps-Mary-Quant

She was at the heart of the Modernist momentum and it took British Post Office to identify her worldwide influence. She was much too close to see she was interpreting an international movement. At the time of the second Bazaar opening she wrote:

“Fashion is the product of a thousand and one different things. It is a whole host of elusive ideas, influences, cross-currents and economic factors, captured into a shape and dominated by two things….impact on others, fun for oneself. It is unpredictable, indefinable. It is successful only when a woman gets a kick out of what she is wearing; when she feels marvelous and looks marvelous.”

Identifying herself with the characteristics of Modernity, Quant sees it encouraging change, embracing technologies which would make life more enjoyable for men and women:

madhousepyjamas

“It is the Mods…the direct opposite of the Rockers (who seem to be anti-everything)…who gave the dress trade the impetus to break through the fast-moving, breathtaking, up-rooting revolution in which we have played a part since the opening of Bazaar.”

For some of the forty years since his Bazaar liaison David Wynne Morgan, was chairman of Hill and Knowlton, Madmen archetype in New York. He was still working in Fashion when I met him. His first words on Quant, in December 2006, were, ‘She’s a genius’.

Staff at the V&A, delighted with the current show’s enchanting glamour agree, with  Wynne Morgan and me, that we are indeed witnessing a life and works of pure brilliance.

 

Daisy

 

 

 

 

A day in the life of an ‘Elite Athlete!’

LOVED my breakfast –  homemade smoothie with frozen strawberries, natural yoghurt, oats, honey, frozen banana, protein powder and a scoop of creatine. It took so long I don’t think I’ll make it through the traffic! My gym is in Canary Wharf and I need to get across town.

RitaOra

Not to worry! Put on my trusty Nike; bike across, work out with their anti gravity treadmill.  Consult with exercise medics, specialist physiothereapists  and their divine super conditioning coach.  He’ll love this look.

At Third Space I’ll unwind on their sprint tracks, and try out the aromatic juniper log glass saunas and hot yoga studios. Shall it be Tower Bridge, Soho, Marylebone?  Must check with Tony to see where we’ll meet for healthy low alcohol cocktails, later!

01-Rita-Oras-MTV-Studios-J_W_-Anderson-for-Topshop-Embroidered-Cotton-Shirt-and-Red-Tartan-Plaid-Pants1-277x500

Today I’m for complete total toning so I can escape to heaven in my JW Anderson collection! These Laboutins work best with toned legs and taut/toned core and don’t I know it!

All that effort for hours of controlled torture and lashings of Paparazzi!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shocking confessions of a bibliophile

She surrounds herself with the talented ‘whose job is to translate her themes, concepts and especially her taste into clothes that bear the Prada name’.

My mother was wearing a full-skirted dress, patterned with tiny, white, dancing sailors when she told me about Elsa Schiaparelli, the Surrealist artist, who designed and sold Fashion.

On ‘Woman’s Hour,’ some time later, I heard that Schiaparelli’s,  Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition, 2003, catalogue was on sale.  I asked for it, as a Christmas present.  Large format, in  her signature  Shocking Pink, written by Dilys E. Blum, it became an influences on how I would write about Fashion, soon to be featured in ‘Vivienne Westwood and Anglomania at the Met.’

Now, as I set off on a crazy schedule of book signings, things have come full circle. That little gem of on-line journalism, Hint Magazine, tells of exciting plans to make New York Metropolitan Museum’s next  show,  live up  to the the sensation of  Alexander McQueen’s ‘Savage Beauty’.

News is that Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada will be  dual subjects of next year’s exhibition.  Both Italian divas are favourites of mine; probably because of Prada’s politics and my early introduction to Elsa, and her defining pink begonias.

The show will mix Schiaparelli’s surreal oeuvre from the late twenties to early fifties with Prada’s work from the late eighties to today. The high-tech angle is that Amazon, will set up an imagined conversation, with topics ranging from art to politics.  It will take on views from ‘FASHION MEDIA PROMOTION  the new black magic,’ that  Schiaparelli ‘offered a unique take on fashion, favoring wit over traditional glamour.’   Is it zeitgeist or have I a follower in  Andrew Bolton, from the Met?

Below: the inventive genius Schiaparelli put on a spectacle, only loosely related to shopping, when she brought her aristocratic vision to Paris in 1927.

I will try to throw light on these questions at WATERSTONE’S signings: Manchester, Deansgate, Thursday 27th, October, 7pmLondon, Covent Garden, Monday 7th, November, 6pm. London, Oxford Street Plaza, Wednesday 9th November, 12noon to 2pm. Sheffield, Orchard Square, Thursday 17th November, 5pm.