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Secrets of the Museum – BBC2

Mary Quant exhibition Secrets of the Museum
(Image credit: V&A Museum)

Iconic fashion designer Mary Quant and a forgotten Topshop dress take centre-stage in this week’s Secrets of the Museum on BBC2

It’s a tale of treasure in the attic in this week's Secrets of the Museum on BBC2.

Trailblazing fashion designer Mary Quant’s eyebrow-raising minis certainly helped the 1960s swing, so it’s no wonder the V&A is keen to launch a major exhibition (pictured top) to celebrate her iconic style.

But even though it has the largest collection of Mary Quant in the world, the museum doesn’t have a mini dress from 1964.

Luckily, after a call-out, donations from the public come flooding in, and one yellow dress, belonging to Jenny Fenwick from Yorkshire, catches the team’s eye.

Jenny bought her Mary Quant mini in 1964 when she was 17, but it’s stained from years of partying and has been sitting in a bag in her attic for more than 50 years!

‘We don’t have any dresses from 1964 that are above the knee,’ explains curator Stephanie Wood.

‘It’s really important [to find one], so we can show the gradual evolution of the hemline.’

Mary Quant dress Secrets of the Museum

Conservator Frances Hartog cleans Jenny’s yellow dress in Secrets of the Museum on BBC2

It’s up to textile conservator Frances Hartog to painstakingly remove the stains from Jenny’s treasured dress to make it exhibition-ready.

‘You feel very responsible,’ says Frances.

‘You’re not just looking at a piece of cloth, but a piece of history.’

After washing it in purified water and pH-controlled detergent, the dress is ready to go on display, and Jenny’s delighted to see it in pride of place.

‘Miniskirts represented freedom,’ says Jenny.

‘Mine was a bit of a rebellion – my father wasn’t happy at all.

‘The thought of throwing it away never entered my head because it was a very special part of my past, and seeing it here brings memories flooding back!’

For full listings, see our TV Guide.

TV Times rating: ****