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At the Mary Quant Exhibition

Me: Come on. Let’s not waste today. Let’s get out of the house. Let’s go and see something different.

Him: But mum, I just want to stay home watching YouTube videos and playing computer games.

Me: Nope. Not an option.

My husband bought me a membership to the Victoria and Albert Museum last Christmas. It gave me free entry into all the exhibitions and I was eager to see the exhibition of Mary Quant’s work — even with a rather reluctant teenage son.

Mary Quant was an English fashion designer responsible for the mini skirt and hot pants in the 1960s.

Born to Welsh teachers, she was encouraged to go into teaching. Instead she enrolled to study art and by 1955, opened her first shop “Bazaar” on the corner of Kings Road and Markham Square in Chelsea.

The exhibition was beautiful.

Me: These clothes are exquisite, don’t you think?

Him: Yeah, well, fashion… meh…

I wish I could have told our son about the revolution that was happening in post-war Britain. Fashion was just one way this rapid change was expressing itself.

But I kept quiet. I was just happy he obliged his mum and came along.

It was the first time fashion went from the hands of the elite to the high street. It became democratised. The world had not seen its like before and Mary Quant was one of the designers leading that change.

I’m not sure our son would have understood or cared.

To him, clothes are something that keeps you warm and protects you from the elements. When he was younger he’d often come to breakfast dressed entirely in different shades of blue or with mismatched colours and odd socks.

“What?” he’d ask as we’d stare at him.

“Oh no. We love you son. We are not going to let you get out of the house like that,” we’d explain.

“This is so stupid,” he’d go back to his bedroom annoyed. His father or I would follow him to help.

Unlike our son, I like the way shapes and colours come together.

From clothes to paintings, I enjoy how people choose to express who they are and what gives them joy.

They are more than mere things to impress others.

I can’t help being intrigued by ideas and seeing how they express themselves in different ways.

“Ha!” my son laughed as we went through the exhibition. He quickly snapped a photo of it.

It was a red lobster on a leash.

Nice to know he found something interesting after all.

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January 2020
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