“Life was a whizz!” begins the autobiography of Mary Quant, the hugely influential designer of 1960s style. “It was such fun and unexpectedly wonderful despite, or perhaps because of its intensity. We were so fortunate with our enormous luck and timing; we partied too – there were no real boundaries.” The “whizz” was the ethos that imbued Quant's clothes, the ever-so-mini skirts for which she takes joint credit for inventing alongside the French designer, Andre Courreges; the subverting of the masculine suit for women at a time when women were still banned from wearing trousers in restaurants. Quant's clothes were bright, fun, and redefined youth, casting aside the tailored tweed, pearls and cardigans which, in the 1950s, were the uniform which women, young and old, were cast in. For Quant those clothes were far too restrictive, physically and socially. Her idea was that women should still be able to move like children, to run – shock! - and with her partner Alexander Plunket Greene, the man she met at Goldsmiths College, she set up the business that would popoularise the “London Look” all over the world. Her inventive clothes, from the “Wet Collection” of PVC macs, to the brightly coloured jersey mini-dresses, are just some of the key looks in the V&A Dundee's delayed blockbuster, charting Quant during the glory years of 1955 – 1975.

The V&A Dundee, after opening with much pomp two years ago, seemed barely open before having to shut, like everything else, in March this year. Last week, it reopened, with, one imagines, almost as much work involved in presenting the space as the first time round. Masks mandatory, hand sanitiser all round, and the highest of ceilings to instill some sense of safety, with the restaurant repositioned and a one way system in operation.

The Mary Quant exhibition is a panacea to grey days, for you can't fail to be wowed by the sheer joy and chutzpah of the brightly coloured dresses – and the odd trouser or two – on display upstairs in this Scottish showing of the V&As retrospective, curated by Stephanie Wood and Jenny Lister, which first opened its doors in South Kensington last year, full of loaned and donated dresses from those who'd worn them in the 1960s and 70s. The feel of the clothes is as infectious as my mother-in-law tells me it was the first time round, the dresses – at least the 1960s minis, the colour-blocking, the playfulness of everything – thoroughly standing the test of time.

It was all about the London style, models zipping along the Thames in amphibious vehicles, dipping their feet in the water, leaping off statues, looking pop-eyed at policemen, and definitely not posing in the stylised and elegant way of models of the 1950s. If London was the stomping ground of Mary Quant, this exhibition focuses on the glory years, as she set up her boutique, Bazaar, on the Kings Road (1955) and mini-skirted and block-coloured her way through the '60s to the more floral and flowing outlines of the '70s. Quant herself, not just the models, was the poster girl for her look, with her short bowl Vidal Sassoon haircut and ability to wear her clothes just as much as the models who inhabited them, from Jean Shrimpton and Celia Hammond to Twiggy.

Colour and movement, zips, the trademark daisy, and a total lack of risque necklines – if these were yet dresses cut for the Shrimps and Twiggies of this world, they were worn by anyone who could afford the six guineas or so required to get one's hands on them.

What gives this exhibition another dimension is the testimony from the people who owned the dresses – dresses which had names like “Prim” or “Prude” or “Miss Muppet” or “Cad” - who lived the life, whether in Kensington or the wilds of suburban Croydon and beyond, and feature in the photos and text that accompany each dress on display, often donated by the person who wore it, the “affordable fashion” that contrasted so much with the lavish couture that had hitherto dominated the fashion world. It's as much a snapshot of a period in time as the clothes themselves, from Quants forays into coloured tights that allowed the miniest of skirts, to the make-up range and the low-heeled shoes, the underwear and the raincoats. There are the Daisy dolls for children to dress up, the sticker books, footage of parties and fashion shows, reminiscences from those who worked with Quant or wore her clothes. Most of all, you can feel the energy that created this new fashion world, and still feel inspired by it.

Mary Quant, V&A Dundee, 1 Riverside Esplanade, Dundee, 01382 411 611, www.vam.ac.uk/dundee Until 17 Jan 2021, Thurs - Mon, 10am - 5pm, Book time slots and tickets online: £6-£10, Concessions available

Critic's Choice

Barely had Director Tina Fiske and her staff at the rural Cample Line gallery put the American conceptual artist Helen Mirra's exhibition of 65 unique weavings on the wall of the former mill gallery than the lockdown came and they had to take it all down again. On the verge of opening, it, like so many others, was mothballed, a term which is slightly more apt for this wool-based exhibition than for most, although the mothballing was thankfully only temporary.

First shown as “Standard Incomparable” in Pasadena, USA, “Acts for placing woollen and linen” is a 65-piece exhibition of works from 16 countries that resulted from an international call in 23 languages for weavers to produce two pieces of work to exacting criteria. “Mirra asked for works the length of the weaver's arm, with seven stripes the width of the weaver's hand, made in natural materials, plant or animal, local to the weaver and in a plain weave in muted colours,” says Fiske. “That was the standard. But the fact is that they're also all radically non-standard. They reflect the body of the individual that made them.”

From now until 19 September, almost every one of these fascinating works will be “walked out” into the surrounding (sheep-filled) landscape and left wherever the chosen walker feels is most apt, a way of dispersing the works and giving them back to the Earth that they came from, agreed on by Mirra, who has a strong socio-environmental ethos, and the weavers who made the works. Time is ticking on this exhibition, so catch it whilst you can – alongside a celebration of the birthday of artist and composer John Cage this weekend.

Acts for Placing Woollen and Linen, Cample Line, Cample Mill, Cample, nr Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, 01848 331 000, www.campleline.org.uk Until 19 Sep, Thurs – Sat, 11am – 5pm Book time slots to view, online

Don't Miss

From a barrage of "Thank you's" at the gates, painted during lockdown at the behest of artist Peter Liversidge, to instructions on how to stage a "happening", the exhibititions programme at sculpture park Jupiter Artland this year marks a joyous homage to American artist Allan Kaprow, whose works are reinvented or riffed upon for the summer season. Artists involved include Andrea Büttner (whose work - swapping jobs with her two year old - will appear at the end of the season), James Hoff, Cinzia Mutigli, Jupiter’s ORBIT Youth Council and the Wilson family, owners of Jupiter, themselves. In the courtyard, too, stands Saoirse Amira Anis' “We can still dance”, a powerful work commissioned as part of the Black Lives Matter Scottish Mural Trail.

Summer Exhibitions Programme, Jupiter Artland, Wilkieston Steadings, Wilkieston, West Lothian,www.jupiterartland.org, 01506 889900, 10am - 5pm daily, Entry to Jupiter Artland via prebooked timeslots, Adults £9, Children 4+ £5, Concessions available