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Carnaby Street

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Carnaby Street

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Carnaby Street

In 1965, Roger Miller sang that “England swings like a pendulum do”. The grammar may have been shaky. The sentiments were anything but. Decades before Cool Britannia, England was regarded as the hippest of the hip. At its epicentre was Carnaby Street, a short walk from Oxford Circus tube station on the borders of Soho, where the fashion- and music-conscious from all around the world flocked to its boutiques, desperate to get kitted out in the latest fashions — be they men’s, women’s, or the increasingly popular unisex styles.

John Stephens, a grocer’s son from Glasgow, started it all, opening several shops that sold Mod clothes and accessories. Mod fashion actually dated back to the late fifties, when devotees found most of their gear at Bilgorri’s in Bishopsgate. A few canny Soho tailors cottoned on to the trend — and therein lay the origins of the Carnaby Street boom. It was short-lived: by the end of 1967, youth culture and media interest had moved on to pastures new.


Your comments

It's a symbol of the Swinging Sixties and probably the most famous street in England.

Chris Pain

Here come those memories again (must book a flight soon!). When I was a child, me mum and dad took us kids down Carnaby Street. Oh the sights and the smells! I still have my shirt...a white t-shirt emblazoned with the Union Jack and the words "Debby...London" screaming across the front! What fun and how mod!
Deborah Scott

When I was trying to mature Carnaby Street was the beacon for all things British, all anything British was the height of coolness. Just ask Twiggy!
Dave Watts

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I think the National Gallery is part of the heritage of England