O.B.E. Dress thumbnail 1
O.B.E. Dress thumbnail 2
+13
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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

O.B.E. Dress

Dress
1966 (designed)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

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.
read Six revolutionary designs by Mary Quant Modern fashion owes a great deal to the trailblazing 1960s designer Mary Quant. From skinny-rib sweaters, to coloured tights and 'onesies', here's our round-up of the signature Quant looks which revolutionised the way we dress, proving there was more to Mary than just miniskirts.
Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Wool jersey
Brief description
Dress of wool jersey, 'O. B. E. Dress', designed by Mary Quant, London, 1966
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.
Production typeReady to wear
Gallery label
[Mary Quant exhibition, 2019 - case panel text] 1966 QUANT MEETS THE QUEEN “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] THE OBE DRESS 1966 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)
Credit line
Given by Mary Quant
Object history
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.)
Summary
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.
Bibliographic reference
Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971
Collection
Accession number
T.354-1974

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Record createdSeptember 5, 2007
Record URL
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