Mary Quant and Vidal Sassoon, 1964. © Ronald Dumont, Daily Express, Hulton Archive, Getty Images. Photo / Supplied

All The Must-Do Events For 'Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary'

From talks and walks to craft and more, here’s how you can get involved in the fashion, freedom and fun of Auckland Art Gallery’s hot new exhibition and its vibrant events calendar

It was 1997 when Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki last hosted a major international fashion exhibition (Couture to Chaos, Fashion from the 1960s to Now). Nearly 25 years later, Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary has kicked off. From Friday December 10, not only will the globally touring exhibition celebrate the influential British designer’s claims to fame (popularising the miniskirt, hot-pants and waterproof mascara), it will host a series of special fashion events taking place throughout the summer.

Mary Quant epitomised the spirit of the swinging sixties, paving the way for the modern woman through fashion, and the exhibition’s many satellite events promise to give visitors a taste of those pivotal and exciting times and to encourage everyone to “join the youthquake!”

READ: How Visionary Fashion Rebel Mary Quant Changed The Lives Of Women

Whether it’s picking up a one-of-a-kind piece at the exhibition’s one-off vintage festival, rubbing shoulders with fashion and beauty heavyweights at an evening soirée or designing a flamboyant creation under the guidance of a top designer, the Gallery’s sheer number of talks, walks and workshops planned around the exhibition is impressive.

Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary originally showed at London’s V&A, but when it toured to V&A Dundee in Scotland many of its events were forced online due to lockdown. Auckland Art Gallery’s Krissy Taylor, public programmes producer, exhibitions and collections, hopes that when the exhibition opens in Auckland, visitors will be able to return to the city and enjoy the lively atmosphere around the event.

“Mary Quant was such a trailblazing, creative influencer and icon, we really wanted to create a programme that incorporates all of her revolutionary concepts and ideas in a relevant and relatable way,” she says. The Gallery’s Friday Lates (weekly from 5-9pm) will be a popular night not only to check out the exhibition, but also to listen to thought-provoking fashion talks, take drop-in drawing classes and enjoy a drink or two at the bar while a DJ plays.

Mary Quant Kangol beret advertisement, 1967. Image courtesy of The Advertising Archives. Photo /Supplied

New Zealand fashion icons will show their support of the exhibition at a special sustainability panel discussion on Saturday 26 February, chaired by Zeenat Wilkinson. Kate Sylvester (who was hugely influenced by Mary Quant) will speak at a panel alongside Ruby’s Emily Miller-Sharma and Nisa’s Elisha Watson on the topic of sustainability and the importance of moving away from fast fashion.

READ: How Mary Quant Shaped New Zealand's Fashion Cognoscenti

“I’m really interested to hear how Mary Quant would have responded to the climate crisis, because at the height of her career a lot of designers chose to use plastic,” says Krissy. “Mary called it hundred karot good plastic. It would be fascinating to see how she would have met some of these challenges that fashion designers are facing today.”

Meanwhile, anyone keen to get in-depth insight to the designer can listen to the five-part fashion revolutionary podcast series, Quant. Step back to a time where activism, fashion and rock’n’roll intersected at London’s boutiques with interviewees including Heather Tilbury Phillips, former director of Quant Limited and consultant to the V&A. Exhibition curator Sophie Matthiesson will also be giving a series of in-gallery talks about Mary Quant throughout the exhibition season.

READ: Curator Sophie Matthiesson On Mary Quant & The Return Of The Youthquake

Audience participation is integral to the line-up with several of the events inviting visitors to witness creativity unfolding in real-time and to get involved in the making processes themselves. “Obviously people love to hear talks, but it’s also great to be part of it and watch demonstrations,” says Krissy. For instance, star makeup artist Gee Pikinga will hold a makeup demonstration inspired by the 60s, in which they will share what Mary Quant has in common with music star Rihanna, and Sammy Salsa, fashion stylist and creative director for TVNZ show The Panthers, will talk about the clothes and inspiration behind the hit show.

Gee Pikinga. Photo / Matiu Hamuera

Elsewhere, the programme features a revolving roster of fun activities at Auckland Art Gallery’s Creative Learning Centre to coincide with the school holidays. There are plenty of drop-in workshops aimed at families. “We wanted to have something for everybody,” says Krissy. “Mary Quant democratised fashion and we want to do the same by bringing these programmes to all audiences.”

The school holiday activities will give participants a chance to learn — for instance, younger fashion fans will be able to make crochet with artists Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole, then the following week Quant-inspired clay badges with Vanessa Fong of Dew Drops and, on yet another week, stamp artworks with Toni Mosley. For adults, there’ll be the opportunity to work on cushion covers and other bold and colourful items under the tutelage of The Art Room’s Hayley Pearce.

Lissy and Rudi Robinson Cole. Photo / Jane Ussher

One of the biggest dates on the programme and a must for fashion-lovers is the free vintage festival, Saturday 5 March, held concurrently at Auckland Art Gallery and Auckland Central Library supported by Auckland Council. “We’re activating spaces and creating a real creative community hub within the city,” says Krissy. “We’re hoping it will be an opportunity to come back to the city and really embrace everything we’ve got to offer.”

The Gallery will host a vintage fashion market and visitors will be able to relax in a lounge inspired by the glamour of yesteryear, spill the beans to an agony aunt and have sixties makeup applied at the vintage beauty bar. Meanwhile at the Library, guests can learn the art of macrame, make a crochet pom pom and more.



Friday 10 December, 6-7pm
Gee Pikinga (Maybelline makeup director, TV makeup artist) and Evie Kemp (interior designer and artist) speak about the evolution of makeup since the sixties. Find out what Mary Quant and Rihanna have in common and watch a live demonstration of a sixties-inspired make-up looks using Maybelline products. Places are strictly limited, so please arrive early to guarantee your place for this talk.

Saturday 11 December, 11am-12pm; Sunday 18 December, 11am-12pm; and Sunday 27 February, 11am-12pm
Fashion historian and the founder of the NZ Fashion Museum, Doris de Pont hosts a walking tour across Auckland to share stories of key fashion influencers and designers. Featuring Paddy Walker, Jennifer Dean, Liz Findlay, Adrienne Winkelmann and Karen Walker. Places are strictly limited. Please email Gallerytours@aucklandartgallery.com to secure your place.

Saturday 11 December and Sunday 12 December, 11-3pm
Final-year students at AUT’s Bachelor of Design (Fashion) course will display their garments and demonstrate their making techniques throughout the exhibition’s opening weekend. Watch them as they demonstrate their leather working, weaving, smocking, metal accessory making, upcycling and more.

Saturday 23 January, 2-3.30pm
Icons of the 1960s, model Di Goldsworthy (née Cooper), fashion designer Jennifer Godward (née Dean) and boutique owner Wendy Hall (née Ganley), share stories of modelling, opening Elle boutique in Auckland and debuting the topless bikini. Following their talk, meet them over a cup of tea and cake. ($20)

Monday 24 January to Friday 28 January, 11am-2pm
Be a WOW fashion designer for the day with Christopher Davis and create your own outrageous fashion pieces. These drop-in sessions are from 11am-2pm every Monday to Friday, held in the Gallery’s Creative Learning Centre.

Friday 28 January, 6-7.30pm
This fashionable event sees artist Evie Kemp in conversation with Wellington-based fashion designer Havilah Arendse (both love colour) followed by a live fashion show of Havilah's designs.

Saturday 29 January, 3-4pm
Local fashion designer Kate Sylvester joins Viva’s creative and fashion director Dan Ahwa in this conversation in which Kate will share how Mary Quant influenced her journey, from building her business from scratch to empowering women through clothes. ($15 or $13.50 for Gallery Members).

Sunday 30 January, 10.30am-3pm
Get creative at the Quant-inspired Fashion Illustration Workshop, and make your own mini fashion portfolio inspired by the designer's famous sketches.

Friday 18 February, 6-7pm
Hear Viva’s Emma Gleason in conversation with fashion designer Alice Isles of Hej Hej, as Alice describes the evolution of the label, their own fashion revolution with the sustainability and practicality of linen, and making fashion accessible for all.

Wednesday 16 February 6-7pm
A special event for Members of Auckland Art Gallery, hear dress and textile expert Angela Lassig discuss how Mary Quant influenced the rise of boutique shopping culture in Auckland.

Sunday 27 February, 3.15-8.30pm
A stylish Swinging Sixties: Double Feature at characterful The Hollywood cinema in Avondale. Viva is delighted partner this event presenting two classic 1960s films, A Hard Day’s Night and Blow-Up. 


To explore the full list of Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary events, visit Aucklandartgallery.com/maryquant

*Please check the Gallery’s website for terms and conditions, your event may not look the same depending on what traffic light system Tāmaki Makaurau is in.

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