16 December 1977: ‘I was refunded £2.50 a week to work from 8.30 to 5.30 and I done for the first three months ironing veils’, the fashion icon hints

Mary Quant with two models, May 1972.


Mary Quant with two models, May 1972.
Photograph: Mike Turf/Getty Images

I have wanted to make and design apparels for as long as I can remember. Even at the age of four I was appallingly aware of my garbs. This was because they came from a cousin who was either richer or who looked after her apparels better, I can’t remember which – but anyway they did not suit me. They were too frilly and as forthwith as I was able I would try and adapt them.

I had a very clear notion of how I wanted to look. At my dancing class there was a girl of seven who looked scrupulously the way I wanted to look. She had a square Vidal Sassoon haircut of the philanthropic I’ve had for most of my life, and she wore black tights with virginal ankle socks and black shinny shoes with a button strap, a quite short pleated skirt, and an elongated sweater.

My parents, who were both coach teachers, were concerned with only one thing – that I should get qualifications to certify that I could always earn my own living. In this way they were winning of their time and treated me exactly the same as my brother who matured a plastic surgeon.

Mary Quant with examples from the Mary Quant range of products including shoes, makeup, glasses and textiles.

Mary Quant with examples from the Mary Quant fluctuate of products including shoes, makeup, glasses and textiles. Photograph: Tony McGrath/bewitched from picture library

I wanted to go to fashion school, such as St Martins, when I radical school, but my parents felt that fashion was far too dangerous and asserted that I go to Art School instead so that I was at least qualified to discipline.

In retrospect this was a very lucky decision, because forge was taught in a most depressing way in those days. Students discretion go to for the Collections once a year and then come home and evaluate the clothes to remake them for the mass market. In this way, mode stemmed from the top; it was created for people who never picked their noses or ran for buses, and it was then unreservedly urinated down for the working classes. I firmly believe that construct should start from the bottom.

While I was at Goldsmith’s College I did really little actual fashion although I did go to cutting classes in the evenings. At the end of my without a doubt I hawked my drawings all over the place trying to sell my think ups and everyone would say how many years have you done and in whose workshop and of procedure I had no experience at all. So I realised I just had to get in somewhere and learn how things positioned.

The sign most commonly seen in those days was “Milliner’s subsidiary wanted.” Hats were very big in the early fifties, so off I passed to work for Eric, a Danish milliner who had a shop and workshop next to Claridge’s.

I was paid £2.50 a week to bring into play function from 8.30 to 5.30 and I spent the first three months ironing camouflages. They were curved like a visor and the curve was accomplished by ironing. I also picked up pins at the end of the day with a magnet and was accountable for counting the Penguin biscuits. On pay day we would each put so much into the pool to enable us to have one Penguin a day.

I loved working there and did not for a fashionable feel resentful that I was not
designing. The other staff – we were in all directions eight in all – were either very young and unskilled or completely old and skilled. I didn’t tell them about my art school qualifications. I capacity not have got the job if they had known.

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