Archive Artefacts: Mary Quant Make Up

Considering my black and white theme for this year’s display in my office, I couldn’t miss out on adding these classic pieces from the fantastic Mary Quant Make-Up Collection we have in the LCF Archives.

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These pieces, the second reveal in this Archive Artefact series, were picked from over 60 items collected by an alumni of the college when she worked for the company manufacturing the make up in the early 1960s. Their striking design and bold packaging fit in with my theme perfectly.

Of course it is not just the look of the items which appealed to me, but the story behind them.

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Mary Quant, a British Fashion icon, had a huge influence, not only on the fashion industry, but also – more broadly speaking – on the role of women in contemporary society.

Quant opened her boutique Bazaar on Kings Road in 1955, at a time when ‘fashion wasn’t designed for young people’.

A significant player in the rise of youth culture, or the “youthquake” which saw the MODs, the end of the Chatterley ban, The Beatles and the contraceptive pill, Quant popularised the miniskirt and hot pants. Her simple shapes, strong colours and lower prices made fashion fun and attractive to younger generations.

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Quant focussed on making clothes which were easy to wear, clothes in which you could move, run and jump. She famously explained her reason behind designing the mini skirt was so that it allowed women the ability to run for a bus – her designs were liberating.

Launched in 1966, Quant’s colourful cosmetics fittingly also defied contemporary make up conventions. She devised the idea of “no-rules make up”: make up to be enjoyed based on one’s favourite colours and mood at the time.

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Quant was (and still is) an innovator, who understood the changes happening in society and used fashion as a means to advance and respond to these developments. She did not just design, but influenced the attitude of 60s society, proving that fashion really does matter.

The items I have on display are two cases containing cake liner, eye liner brush and mirror (c1960) and a bottle of Mary Quant ‘a.m. perfume’ still in its original packaging (c1960).

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