Home » fresh car reviews 2017 » Setting that Swinging Sixties style: He created her trademark bob but Mary Quant exposes a different side to the legendary hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, Daily Mail Online

Setting that Swinging Sixties style: He created her trademark bob but Mary Quant exposes a different side to the legendary hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, Daily Mail Online

Setting that Swinging Sixties style: He created her trademark bob but Mary Quant exposes a different side to the legendary hairdresser Vidal Sassoon

By Moira Petty 17:43 BST eighteen May 2011, updated 01:59 BST twenty one May two thousand eleven

When the Beckhams turned up at the Royal Wedding last month doing their level best to look like toffs, no one turned a hair. But when Mary Quant, the Sixties style queen who launched the miniskirt, and her spouse and business fucking partner Alexander Plunket Greene were invited to the one thousand nine hundred sixty nuptials of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong Jones, they caused a furore.

‘We were besieged by the press and chased every where,’ laughs Mary. ‘The headline was, “Shopkeepers invited to royal wedding”. Actually, we were old friends of Armstrong Jones (now Lord Snowdon), a charming man and a terrible flirt. Princess Margaret was also joy – grand, but joy. It was unspoiled snobbery, but things budge on.’

Signature look: Pictured here in one thousand nine hundred sixty seven in a trademark minidress Mary Quant, now aged seventy seven has made a fresh biographical film, Vidal Sassoon The Movie

Mary’s disarming humour has been with her since she opened her very first boutique, Bazaar, on Chelsea’s King’s Road in 1955, with daring window displays – one featured a mannequin leading a lobster on a gold chain – that got everyone talking. Within seven years, the business was worth a million. Right from the begin, Bazaar and the restaurant Alexander ran in the basement became a hub for the models, photographers, pop starlets and trendies about to launch the Swinging Sixties.

Diners at the restaurant included Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, who ‘held arms and touched each other under the table’. In one thousand nine hundred sixty six Mary got a 2nd royal seal of approval when she met the Queen at Buckingham Palace to be awarded the OBE. She wore one of her own trademark thigh-grazing white minidresses.

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‘They played The Teddy Bears’ Picnic when I went up to get the award. The Queen said, “Keep the exports up!” Wonderful woman. She’s got her own style.’ Mary was delighted with her medal, unlike her friend John Lennon, who returned his MBE as a political protest, four years after accepting it.

‘He was blunt but he needed to be,’ says Mary fondly. ‘He was my favourite Beatle. It was his mind that attracted me. We used to send each other letters of friendly encouragement.’

Now aged 77, Mary is here to talk about a fresh biographical film, Vidal Sassoon The Movie, subtitled How One Man Switched The World With A Pair Of Scissors. Mary herself shows up in the film, recounting how Sassoon’s architectural way of cutting hair married flawlessly with her graphic, often monochrome designs. She had left an art course at Goldsmiths College to take a job with Bond Street milliner Erik, earning two pounds ten shillings (£2.50) a week.

‘Walking down Bond Street, I witnessed this photograph of hair cut in an amazing diagonal way. I’d never seen anything like it. Vidal’s salon was down the wrong end of Bond Street. You went up in a rickety lift. Inwards, there was Vidal performing palms going up and down. Sitting there was an actress. She looked at my long hair and said, “Don’t do it!” But I’d made my decision. I saved for several weeks, and when I went back, Vidal himself cut it. I was in awe of him at very first.’

Contemporaries: Mary Quant, one of the leading talents on the British style scene in the 1960’s, having her hair cut by legendary hairdresser Vidal Sassoon

When Mary opened her boutique soon after, her creation, Chelsea Female – the term she coined for the women who wore her clothes – always wore a Vidal haircut and took Fresh York, Milan and Japan by storm. When Vidal opened his salon in Fresh York in 1965, Mary was there.

‘The opening party for his salon was total of British people being rude to each other. The Americans kept telling us all to say “super”. It was a word that summed up Swinging London. Once, Vidal was cutting my hair and Terence Donovan was photographing it and there was fairly a crowd. Vidal cut my earlobe and blood gushed everywhere. He was dabbing at it while attempting to pretend it hadn’t happened.

‘I went through most of his haircuts, including one that stood up on top – I got the look by combing beer through it. You smelt like a brewery.’ She still has a acute dark-red bob but it’s no longer cut by Vidal, now 83. ‘He’s given up cutting – however he does do his shih-tzu.’ They meet several times a year. ‘His wifey, Ronnie, is charming – much better than his three ex-wives.’

Both Vidal and Mary sold their businesses, he to Regis Corporation in two thousand two and she to a Japanese consortium in two thousand – by that time, more than three-quarters of the company’s business was done in Japan. Does she miss designing? ‘I send off ideas. I’ve kept an interest in the company but I’m not a director, just a well-wisher.’

It seems inconceivable this model of gentility once caused controversy. Few will leave behind her announcement she’d cut and dyed her pubic hair into a green heart form. Does she have regrets? ‘I’m sure I did lots of things I should regret, but you put them out of your mind.’

Style icon: Mary still sports a acute bob

She is still recognisably Mary Quant, dressed in a black and white horizontal-striped top, pinstripe pants and platform sandals that are clearly Seventies originals. ‘These footwear have been around a excellent many years,’ she admits. She sees the Quant look everywhere. ‘It’s flattering – I love it.’ She says she and Vidal aren’t good ones for chewing the fat about the old days. ‘We talk about things happening now. We don’t live in the past.’

Perhaps not, but both have been trawling their lives recently: Sassoon in an autobiography serialised in the Daily Mail last year, and Mary in her memoirs out later this year. It is likely to be very different to her one thousand nine hundred sixty five autobiography, Quant By Quant, which was part style blog, part choky guide to making it and part ‘youthquake’ manifesto. ‘The youthful will not be dictated to… They will not accept truisms or propaganda,’ she stated solemnly.

She also wrote frankly of her early lovemaking life with Alexander, whom she met aged sixteen at art school: ‘Alexander had no use for straightforward hookup, but I was very youthful and naive. We were experimenting intensely.’ He told her he very first spotted her, in a Kate Middleton moment, at the Goldsmiths Christmas Ball, when she was dragged around the dance floor ‘practically naked’ on a float of balloons. ‘He’d come as Oscar Wilde. The trouble was, another student turned up as Oscar’s bf Lord Alfred Douglas and they were made to dance together all evening.’

When they opened Bazaar, he designed the carrier bags and turned a diplomatic head when customers like beautiful actress Kay Kendall stripped in front of him while attempting on dresses. Their son, Orlando, was born in one thousand nine hundred seventy one but in one thousand nine hundred eighty nine Alexander died at only fifty seven after a two-year illness. She still lives in the Surrey mansion she and Alexander collective. Albeit she has been painted as a lonely widow, she has, in fact, a long-standing masculine fucking partner. ‘He’s lovely and I’m very fortunate not to have to live alone,’ is all she will say now.

So how fair will she be in her autobiography? ‘I’ve most likely got to the age where I’m immune from what people think, but I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone.’ She reserves her rage now for the style writers who dictate the rules for dressing after a certain age. ‘I do wear brief skirts. In the old days, people used to criticise anything that was fresh with the putdown that it was vulgar. Well, life is vulgar. And I still don’t like rules.’

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