Swinging London: A Look Back at Carnaby Street in the Sixties

Carnaby Street is a pedestrianised shopping street in Soho in the City of Westminster, Central London. It is home to fashion and lifestyle retailers, including many independent fashion boutiques.

By the 1960s, Carnaby Street was popular with followers of the mod and hippie styles. Many independent fashion designers, such as Mary Quant, Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin, Lord John, Merc, Take Six, and Irvine Sellars, had premises in the street, and various underground music bars, such as the Roaring Twenties, opened in the surrounding streets. Bands such as the Small Faces, The Who and The Rolling Stones appeared in the area, to work (at the legendary Marquee Club round the corner in Wardour Street), to shop, and to socialise, so it became one of the coolest destinations associated with 1960s Swinging London.

The Carnaby Street contingent of Swinging London stormed into North American and international awareness with the 15 April 1966 publication of Time magazine’s cover story that extolled this street’s role: “Perhaps nothing illustrates the new swinging London better than narrow, three-block-long Carnaby Street, which is crammed with a cluster of the ‘gear’ boutiques where the girls and boys buy each other clothing…”

Take a look back at the “swingingest street in the world” in the 1960s through 25 stunning vintage photographs below:


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