Swinging back in time

Feb 19, 2020

The Swinging London exhibition is both a journey through time, as well as a celebration of the cultural revolution that took place between the late 1940s and mid-1960s in Britain. Produced by the Fashion and Textile Museum, the show explores the group of radical creatives, known as the ‘Chelsea set’, that fronted the movement.

The group included the likes of Terence Conran and Laura Ashley but designer, and pioneer of pieces such as the shift dress and the miniskirt, Mary Quant was – and still is – arguably the star of the show. 

The lower floor of the exhibition explores the beginnings of Quant’s career, focusing on her early designs and her first boutique, Bazaar. Muted tones are prominent throughout, as are the prints and patterns we know and still love today: polka dots, stripes, checks and colour blocking. 

Elevated toward the beginning of the exhibition is a simple, black, floaty miniskirt, paired with yellow tights. The combination is simply the epitome of Quant’s legacy - the miniskirt being her most famous creation and, according to Quant herself, indicates the fun, youthful attitude the Chelsea set encouraged. 

Quant’s emphasis on progressiveness is evident throughout the show. A 1965 striped corduroy velvet trouser suit is one of the most powerful designs on display. Celebrating women’s liberation, the design was ground-breaking and her use of these textures and blend of neutral colours is simply genius. 

Upstairs, the show moves to Quant’s venture into accessories and beauty; a display shows her first ever bag design – a 1965 black and white PVC with an early version of her iconic ‘Daisy’ logo. Rigid, circular shapes are prevalent within her accessories range – as is a simple, yet beautifully effective, monochromatic colour scheme.

What makes this show so engaging is that, during this transformative period, Quant pioneered some of today’s most prominent trends. The show is a reminder that, in fashion, what goes around comes around – and that’s thanks to designers like Quant.

Getting there: Fashion & Textile Museum
Tube: London Bridge
83 Bermondsey St., SE1 3XF
Opening times: Tues-Sat 11m-6pm, Thurs until 8pm, Sun-11am-5pm, Mon - closed. 
Ticket prices: Adults £9.90, Concessions £8.80, Students £7
Phone: 020 7407 8664

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