Mary Quant: R I P (1930-2023)

The Spanish language fashion magazine S Moda has published a retrospective article on the life and career of fashion designer Mary Quant on the occasion of her recent death. It contains a reference to the relationship of her husband Alexander Plunket-Greene to the family of that name to which Evelyn Waugh was closely connected. This was through his friendship with Olivia Plunket-Greene, her brothers, Richard and David, and their mother Gwen. Richard was Alexander’s father. Here’s the relevant excerpt translated by Google:

…The daughter of school teachers, descendants of Welsh miners relocated to the outskirts of the capital in search of a better life, Barbara Mary Quant herself exemplified the jovial uproar of the moment. At art school she met her future partner and husband, Alexander Plunket Greene, who had an impressive pedigree: grandson of legendary Irish baritone Henry Plunket Greene and his wife British aristocrat Gwendoline Maud Parry, son of motorcycle racer, jazz musician and writer Richard Plunket Greene, a jewel of the bohemian Bright Young Things whose adventures filled the pages of the London tabloids in the twenties (the writer Evelyn Waugh was close to the family and was inspired by Richard and his siblings, David and Olivia, to create characters in Vile Bodies and Brideshead Revisited). Still engaged, they arrived in Chelsea, which in 1955, was at the dawn of the youthquake. This was no longer just any neighborhood, but was abuzz with musicians, artists, filmmakers and society puppies becoming beatniks in cafes (espresso-bars) and clothing stores. In November they opened a restaurant, Alexander’s, and a boutique, Bazaar, in the building that Plunket Greene and his friend Archie McNair, a lawyer-turned-photographer, had bought on King’s Road. The bistro was a flop; the store, a success that would inevitably change the business model and what we now call the shopping experience…

It is doubtful that Waugh ever met either Mary or Alexander. Since Waugh died in 1966, he would have missed the period in which their careers were at their peak. Waugh last mentions in his published correspondence and diaries any meeting with members of the family in 1948. This was in connection with a visit he made to the cottage in which Olivia and her mother Gwen were living a rather ramshackle existence on the Longleat Estate. In his autobiography, Waugh gives a fairly detailed account of his relations with the Plunket- Greenes, noting that for “ten years…I was practically a member of the family.” (A Little Learning, CWEW, v. 19, pp. 180-185).

UPDATE (23 April 2023): Quote from ALL added.



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