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Dress - O.B.E. Dress

O.B.E. Dress

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1966 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Quant, Mary, born 1930 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wool jersey

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mary Quant

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

Mary Quant’s first boutique, Bazaar, opened in London's King's Road in 1955, launching a successful fashion career. Her youthful easy-to-wear clothing became so popular that in 1963, she launched a lower-priced ready-to-wear range called 'Ginger Group'. She also entered into licensing agreements with manufacturers to produce hosiery, underwear, cosmetics and accessories bearing her name. Almost anyone, whatever their income, could spare the money to buy a pair of 'Mary Quant' stockings or a lipstick. This enabled girls who could not otherwise afford her clothing to feel in touch with fashion, and made Mary Quant a household name and a commercial success.

Her contribution to British life was marked by a retrospective exhibition at the London Museum in 1973. The exhibition included many of Quant's most revolutionary garments, some remade as facsimiles if original ones could not be found.

Physical description

Cream wool jersey dress with low waist and short slightly gathered skirt. High collar and bell shaped sleeves faced with blue topstitching, brass zippers at neck and cuffs.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1966 (designed)


Quant, Mary, born 1930 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Wool jersey

Object history note

An identical design was worn by Mary Quant to collect her OBE from Buckingham Palace in 1966 (Another version was no. 38 in the "Mary Quant's London" retrospective at the Museum of London, who now own the dress. As our dress was acquired in 1971 directly from Mary Quant via Cecil Beaton, the Museum of London dress might be one of the replicas made by Quant for her retrospective.)

Descriptive line

Dress of wool jersey, 'O. B. E. Dress', designed by Mary Quant, London, 1966

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971

Labels and date

[Mary Quant exhibition, 2019 - case panel text]


“Odd Gear at the Palace.” Daily Mail, 1966

One chilly November afternoon in 1966, Mary Quant arrives at Buckingham Palace with her husband Alexander Plunket Greene and their business partner Archie McNair. A few hours later they emerge with Quant’s OBE (Officer of the British Empire), a medal awarded for her contribution to the UK fashion export trade, supporting the British economy.

Dressing with press photographers in mind, Quant’s bright cream outfit stands out in the crowd. She reinterprets formal protocol - her hat is a schoolgirl’s beret, her gloves have revealing cut-out backs. She promotes her own designs from top to toe: lipstick, dress, underwear, tights and shoes can all be bought in UK shops and, increasingly, in other countries. This potent media opportunity for the Mary Quant brand results in newspaper headlines across the world.

[Mary Quant exhibition, 2019 - label text]
Designed and worn by Mary Quant

Quant’s OBE dress is one of her many designs using jersey fabric, modelled on sports clothing but with a miniskirt length. The dress makes a feature out of functional details like her favourite circular zip-pulls and contrasting top stitching. The simple style became her signature look.

Bonded wool jersey (modern beret)
Labelled ‘Mary Quant’
Made in the Mary Quant sample workroom, London (probably)
Given by Mary Quant Ltd
V&A: T.354-1974 [30/03/2020]


Wool jersey


Fashion; Day wear; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type

Ready to wear


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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