The mod world of Mary Quant

Mary Quant & her famous bob cut by Vidal Sassoon

Peggy Moffit in a Mary Quant Mod-Bob wig by Vidal Sassoon

We have the Brits to thank for the mod movement if not the existence of the clothing boutique itself.   And perhaps most of our gratitude for both should rest at the feet of Mary Quant, maybe the most influential designer/boutique owner of the 1960s.

First, a word about the word: mod.  Mod as a fashion, music, and lifestyle descriptive term derives from the term Modernist, first coined in the 1959 novel Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes to describe modernist (or mod) jazz fans versus traditionalist (or trad) jazz fans.  The mod subculture is a British one (brought to America with the British invasion) born in Swinging London when British teens began to rebel against the boring, staid and traditional 1950s culture, be it music, fashion or film.  With the beatnicks and teddy boys (1950s dandys) as their predecessers, mods look to French art films and Italian fashion for their style cues.

And at the forefront of the movement is Mary Quant.  In November of 1955, Mary opened her first boutique, Bazaar, in Chelsea on King’s Road with her husband Alexander Plunkett-Greene and an accountant, Archie McNair.  Unable to find the pieces she wanted to sell, Quant began designing and creating her own looks, most notably the mini-skirt.  Crediting Quant with the creation of the mini-skirt is somewhat controversial as Andre Courreges was putting out minis at the same time.  But there is no doubt that she popularized them and moved them into the mainstream, along with hot pants and Twiggy, the iconic mod model.

Mary Quant & her models

Mary Quant & her models

So what makes the mod look?  Well, there is the afore-mentioned mini skirt (usually in an a-line shape) generally worn with flats and maybe a boxy jacket or cardy.  Or you can take a more pop art approach and work with bright colors usually offset by dark trim details.  Or think Italian design elements, like sleek, sophisticated cigarette pants again with flats and a trapeze jacket or artist-style smock.

Mary & the Mini, named for her favorite car

Mary & the Mini, named for her favorite car

As far as celebs go, the top contender for rocking the mod look today is Zooey Deschanel, especially when she’s in She & Him mode (fronting her band with M. Ward).

M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel of She & Him

M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel of She & Him

And what line of clothing does Ms. Deschanel seem to prefer for her mod look? Why, Dear Creatures, of course.  Here she is in the Nine to Five dress:

Zooey in Dear Creatures' Nine to Five dress

Zooey in Dear Creatures' Nine to Five dress

We are thrilled to be carrying Dear Creatures at Minx.  We’ve got the Nine to Five dress in the richest mustard yellow with brown piping for only $83.  Just perfect for that mod look.  This one’s got Mary Quant written all over it!

Nine to Five Dress from Dear Creatures $83

Nine to Five Dress from Dear Creatures $83

Thanks to the Come Spy with Me blog for the Mary Quant pics!

4 thoughts on “The mod world of Mary Quant

  1. Joe

    Nice article. However, the first photo isn’t Mary Quant. It’s Peggy Moffitt wearing a Vidal Sassoon wig.

    1. letitiaanne Post author

      Thanks for the clarification on the photo. It’s always a dicey proposition trusting the intranets for proper sourcing. Will correct the entry pronto!

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