Year:  2021

Director:  Sadie Frost

Rated:  M

Release:  May 18, 2023

Distributor: Vendetta

Running time: 82 minutes

Worth: $17.00
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Mary Quant, Camilla Rutherford, Alexander Plunket Greene, Kate Moss, Dave Davies, Vivienne Westwood

… an extremely enjoyable documentary …

While she may or may not have invented the mini skirt, she certainly popularised it, and she definitely invented tights, having evolved them from a humble pair of stockings. Quant designed clothes for young working women, became synonymous with the mod look, plus pushed manufacturers into uncharted territory to realise her visions – and her visions, eventually, went far beyond the field of fashion.

Along with her husband, the charismatic Alexander Plunket Greene – described as “an impoverished aristocrat” – Quant built an empire that had its roots in London’s famous Kings Road and branched out into the world. Quant did for British fashion what the Beatles did for British music – a one-woman invasion of America.

This film is also something of a love story, with Quant and Plunket Greene sharing an incredible partnership – both romantically and in terms of the brand. But they were more artists than businesspeople, and the documentary explores what happens when art meets commerce, explaining how Quant – who liked to have control – had to let go.

The documentary also charts the post 1960s Quant – no longer young and part of the counterculture, she had already expanded her brand into footwear and, famously, cosmetics. But as the ‘70s came into view, Quant, by some accounts, went overboard, adding her stamp to everything from carpet to kitchenware, and wallpaper to wine.

The soundtrack, which is ever-present, is a delicious blend of 20th century music, with a focus on the Sixties with snippets of the Stones, Cream and the Kinks – with the latter’s Dave Davies adding his talking head to the many seen here. Vivienne Westwood makes an appearance and Quant’s son Orlando adds insights, as well as archival interviews with Quant herself.

There are also several scenes filmed especially for the documentary – Frost’s first as director – in which Camilla Rutherford convincingly plays the quotable Quant.

By a sad coincidence, the Australian release of this film follows Dame Mary Quant’s death in April 2023 aged 93, adding a layer of poignancy to this already excellent documentary.