‘We had planned for me to visit her, but she’s very old, so when the lockdown happened and the pandemic happened, we couldn’t do that anymore,’ explains Frost. ‘Same with David Bailey. People’s decisions and perspectives change and you have to respect someone’s decision when they are worried about their health.’
Even without bearing in mind the difficulties that Frost and her team had to surmount, the end result is a real feat. Quant is fun and flirty, perfectly bringing to life the vibe of the era – combining archive footage, talking heads and animation. Frost also decided to cast actress Camilla Rutherford to play the designer in her heyday, which adds another dimension to the piece. Aesthetically, it looks totally unique, and is a real feast for the eyes.
‘I wanted to make it a very human story, a very beautiful story, about a woman who did so much for other women – and something that was going to be fun and exciting and sexy, and show how Mary liberated women and how her legacy lived on,’ Frost explains. ‘Of course there’s Mary’s story and what she did, but there were also so many social themes to highlight – how women’s roles changed, the sexual liberation due to the pill, how clothes changed women’s behaviour. Women always dressed for daddy or like their mothers, and there was suddenly this whole different world of fashion. It was important for me to show how exciting that must have been.’
In many ways, it feels like a film only a woman could have made – particularly when you consider Frost herself has worked in fashion. ‘I’m sure a man could have made a great film on Mary Quant, but I felt like I wanted to give it a feminine sensibility, a coquettish cheekiness and sexiness, tongue-in-cheek-ness…’ Frost shares. ‘From having little animations in it, to slowing footage down to running it backwards, to the sound design – a lot of which I did myself.’
Undeniably one of her major coups was lining up pal Kate Moss to be one of the talking heads – albeit via sound bite, rather than on film. Others she chats to include Vivienne Westwood, who she travelled to Belmarsh to interview (and who refused to talk about fashion if not in the context of environmental activism), as well as Quant’s son, Orlando.
She may not appear in the film, but Quant has seen it, Frost confirms. ‘So you’ve got the seal of approval?’ I ask. Frost laughs. ‘To not have one of her friends turn around and say, “that didn’t happen, that’s not true?” is really good – everyone’s loved it.’