The designs of a trailblazing fashion designer who helped kickstart the female revolution of the 1960s and 70s are on display at the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary opens on Saturday and showcases the vibrant alternative to the traditional dresses young working women were choosing in the 1960s.
Bendigo Art Gallery director Jessica Bridgfoot said with the coronavirus events of the past 12 months, it was a relief to be able to launch the exhibition originally created by London's Victoria and Albert Museum.
"Things were up in the air for a while and we were wondering at one point if we would be able to deliver this show," she said. "But the V&A really pulled out all stops to make it happen and here we are with our first big international show of the new decade."
Ms Bridgfoot said the gallery had received a positive reaction from patrons since announcing the exhibition at the start of the year.
"A lot of people have been posting on social media, which is always a good litmus test," she said. "We have also had people ringing saying 'I have Quant stockings and a dress, would you like it?' people are really getting on board.
"I think what's unique and great about this exhibition is it's not only an exhibition about a fantastic designer, it's about a social movement. There are a lot of people in Australia who were a part of that (1960s era) and have fond memories of it."
The gallery is able to host 900 people a day to the exhibition under COVID-19 restriction. Ms Bridgfoot believed The Mary Quant exhibit was one of the biggest arts and design exhibitions to launch in Victoria since the end of lockdown.
"That's still a significant amount of people, so we're feeling confident that we will be able to facilitate enough people through gallery to make it a hit but also do it in a safe way," Ms Bridgfoot said.
"Already we have had most pre-ticket sales we have ever had. It shows people are planning.
"The NGV Triennial is huge but this is the other big art and design event that is happening at the moment. Things slowly getting back but we are able to go out with a bang with something that is bright, colourful and joyous. The planets have aligned for us."
Australian fashion designer Prue Acton, who rose to prominence at the same time as Mary Quant in the 1960s, viewed the exhibition at the media launch on Friday.
She said the simple garments were one of the first steps in the female revolution that gathered strong momentum in the 1970s.
"It really was critical is that young girls had some money and opportunity," she said. "We still had no agency over our bodies. There was no legal abortion, we had no bank accounts, no ability to have a mortgage and police wouldn't come if there was domestic violence.
"All those things continued to the '70s but I reckon that revolution that happened in the 1970s started in the 1960s."
Ms Acton began designing dresses in the late 1950s at art school before launching her own label in 1961.
"I was making a new dress every week to go out dancing in and I remember my friends saying you're going to be Australia's Mary Quant," Ms Acton said. "I hadn't even thought of being fashion designer, that was my first intro to her.
"In 1961 my own label it took off and I ended up in New York just after Mary Quant had her show in Young New Yorker at Lord and Taylor on Fifth Avenue. Then Yves Saint Laurent (showed) and then me.
"They're very simple garments that aren't over-styled. They're colourful, easy to wear and, of course, they went shorter until Mary Quant labelled them 'the mini'."
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