Mary Quant with the OBE she received in 1966
Today Sloane Street and Chelsea are synonymous with world-class shopping and destination boutiques like Browns and Joseph but it wasn’t always this way. Yes, Chelsea has always been a magnet to the city’s bohemian types, attracting artists and thinkers, but it was only after World War II, and London recovered from the wounds of war, that the King’s Road became a hot spot in the pop-culture revolution.
Mary Quant, the mother of the miniskirt, had opened Bazaar, London’s first boutique, at 138a King’s Road in November 1955. The operation had to be run on a shoe- string at first, with Quant making all of her clothes in her studio apartment using fabric bought at retail price from Harrods.
She railed against the “unattractive, alarming and terrifying, stilted, confined and ugly” appearance of adults and developed instead the mini-skirt and hot-pants in 1964, which became a defining fashion movement in the 60s, when they were worn by the likes of Twiggy and Verushka.
You can still see traces of her vision in the autumn/winter 2014 collections of Valentino (below, left) and Miu Miu (below, right), which strongly referenced the decade and Quant’s big (yet also very small!) contribution to fashion history.