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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition

Raincoat

1964-1965 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Mary Quant began her business in 1955 when she opened her first boutique, Bazaar, in London's King's Road. Bazaar catered for a new generation of young, newly-affluent adults who had time to enjoy shopping, it inspired many imitations in 'Swinging London'.

This 'rainsmock' was purchased by the donor from Bazaar in about 1964. It is a rare survival, a shorter version of the full-length PVC raincoat displayed by Quant in Paris in 1963 as part of her 'Wet Collection'. Quant experimented after Paris with ways to mass-produce the PVC garments. However, she found that the plastic either stuck to the foot of the sewing machine, or was perforated by the needle and thus easily torn. Nevertheless, despite initial problems with production, the PVC 'wet look' became one of Quant's signature styles, its bright colours and shiny texture a symbol of 1960s London's urban renewal, vibrant youth culture and 'Pop Art' stylings. Cynthia Lennon was photographed with John Lennon at London airport in February 1964, wearing an identical 'rainsmock' to this one.
read Introducing Mary Quant Inventive, opinionated and commercially minded, Mary Quant was the most iconic fashion designer of the 1960s. A design and retail pioneer, she popularised super-high hemlines and other irreverent looks that were critical to the development of the 'Swinging Sixties' scene. Our fashion colle...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Machine-stitched PVC, woven cotton, copper alloy buttons
Brief Description
Short raincoat or smock, beige PVC, designed by Mary Quant (unlabelled) ca.1964
Physical Description
Short raincoat of beige PVC, lined with woven cotton in a black and white check. It has a turn-down 'Christopher Robin' collar, and fastens at the back with six copper alloy buttons. There is a Seamed yoke across the chest with a bust dart at each side, at the hips are two rectangular pockets. The long sleeves fasten with a strap held by a single button.

Dimensions
  • Neck to hem length: 74cm
Production typeReady to wear
Gallery Label
  • [Mary Quant exhibition, 2019] ‘CHRISTOPHER ROBIN’ 1963 Worn by Dinny Pagan The ‘Wet Collection’ capitalised on the 1960s’ love affair with modern materials and is a key example of Quant’s ability to attract widespread publicity. Fashion editors in London, Paris, New York and Australia promoted her experimental PVC designs such as this ‘Christopher Robin’ rain smock. Vogue featured a similar design in red on its October 1963 cover, while Quant credited the success of the ‘Wet Collection’ with winning the Sunday Times International Fashion award that same month. Rain smock PVC Label removed Made in London Given by Dinny Pagan V&A: T.3-2013(30/02/2020)
  • Fashion gallery [2015] Raincoat Mary Quant (born 1934) About 1963 In 1963 Mary Quant made history when she presented a collection of PVC clothing in Paris. It had taken two years of experimentation to successfully bond the seams of the plastic garments. This ‘rainsmock’, a shorter version of a long coat from the ‘Wet Collection’, was highly modern. It fused innovative, up-to-date materials with Quant’s contemporary vision. PVC and cotton Given by Dinny Pagan Museum no. T.3-2013 (04/2015-10/2015)
Credit line
Given by Dinny Pagan
Object history
Purchased by the donor from Mary Quant's shop on the King's Road, Chelsea in 1964-1965. She recalled it was often assumed that she was wearing it backwards because of the button-fastenings on its reverse.



Given to the V&A in 2013 (Registered File no. 2013/162).

Historical context
The design of this 'rainsmock' dates from 1963, the year Mary Quant showed The Wet Collection in Paris, the result of Quant's experiments with PVC. In her autobiography Quant by Quant (1966, p.120) the designer states that it took around two years of manufacturing trials following this show to successfully bond the seams of PVC garments. The samples made for the catwalk show were not suitable for mass-production, Quant realising fairly quickly that the PVC had to be cotton-backed. She was later contacted by the Alligator Company, an established manufacturer of rainwear, who advised her how to best join the PVC. Despite its widely-recognised importance, production issues meant that the Wet Collection was one of Quant's least financially successful collections. It is estimated that she managed to deliver only 15-20% of orders made for her PVC garments. The Museum of London has in its collection a reproduction coat from the Wet Collection, made by Quant for a 1973 retrospective of her work.



Cynthia Lennon was photographed at Heathrow on 7th February 1964 wearing an identical rainsmock to this one. John Lennon was a friend and frequent customer of Quant's, it was from her shop that he purchased the leather cap that became his trademark in the the early days of the Beatles' success.

Production
After initial production difficulties, Quant was contacted by the Alligator Company, an established manufacturer of rainwear, who advised her how best to join PVC garments' seams. They recommended using a welded seam, rather than stitched, to avoid perforating the fabric.
Summary
Mary Quant began her business in 1955 when she opened her first boutique, Bazaar, in London's King's Road. Bazaar catered for a new generation of young, newly-affluent adults who had time to enjoy shopping, it inspired many imitations in 'Swinging London'.



This 'rainsmock' was purchased by the donor from Bazaar in about 1964. It is a rare survival, a shorter version of the full-length PVC raincoat displayed by Quant in Paris in 1963 as part of her 'Wet Collection'. Quant experimented after Paris with ways to mass-produce the PVC garments. However, she found that the plastic either stuck to the foot of the sewing machine, or was perforated by the needle and thus easily torn. Nevertheless, despite initial problems with production, the PVC 'wet look' became one of Quant's signature styles, its bright colours and shiny texture a symbol of 1960s London's urban renewal, vibrant youth culture and 'Pop Art' stylings. Cynthia Lennon was photographed with John Lennon at London airport in February 1964, wearing an identical 'rainsmock' to this one.

Bibliographic Reference
A similar red version of this rain smock is featured on the cover of Vogue, October 1963. Modelled by Tania Mallett, photograph by Brian Duffy [V&A: NCOL.447-2018]
Collection
Accession Number
T.3-2013

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record createdMarch 7, 2013
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