Carnaby: One swinging street, 100 years of fashion

It wasn’t just hip in the 1960s. Carnaby has been synonymous with cool for a century, says Rebecca Gonsalves

Carnaby Street may be best known as the setting for the counterculture of the Swinging Sixties, but a new project launched yesterday explores a neat century of music heritage in the warren-like locale squeezed between Soho and Covent Garden.

The street and its surrounds have changed much over the century that spans from the opening of jazz club Murray’s on Beak Street in 1913, via the hippies and mods of the 1960s and the punks of the 1970s to the present day in which a pedestrianised shopping area is home to brands with indelible links to the music scene such as Pretty Green and Fred Perry.

1910s Only those truly on the cutting edge would have ditched the feminine ruffles and flounces that lingered into the 20th century by 1913, but the First World War soon put paid to such fripperies as working women soon demanded more practical garments. Hats and headpieces were still de rigueur, although a knee-length dress would be rather recherché.

1920s Flapper chic – all dropped waists, beads and fringes – is one of the definitive styles of the Roaring Twenties, a time synonymous with the smoky jazz clubs dotted around London. The nightclubs of Carnaby Street would have been filled with young women competing for the affections of the survivors of the war by slinking and shimmying around in fox-fur stoles.

1930s The glamour and escapism of Hollywood inspired the early 1930s, after the fun times of the previous decade were brought to a sudden halt by the Wall Street Crash. When the Depression hit, hemlines fell back to the floor, while a softer, draped silhouette harked back to a more traditional ideal of romance and femininity inspired by ancient Greece and Rome.

1940s With the return of war came the return of utility-inspired dressing for women, while clothing rations led to furnishing fabrics being used for dressmaking. Tea dresses in floral fabrics were created with wide shoulders, narrow waists and pleated skirts just above the knee.

1950s As the “teenager” emerged in the post-war era, identified by marketers and social scientists, the influence from American culture was great once again. Rockabilly styles, popular the first time around in the 1950s, have seen a resurgence in recent years, inspired by pin-ups such as Bettie Page.

1960s The Swinging Sixties were a time of huge importance as revolution and counterculture were on the rise among young “women’s libbers” and fashion was dominated by Mary Quant and the miniskirt, Vidal Sassoon and his five-point cut, and model Twiggy. Bright, bold colours and psychedelic patterns were typical of the simplified shapes, reflecting LSD hallucinations.

1970s Once hems could go no higher, they began to fall again, reflecting the tumble the optimism of the 1960s took. Flower power prevailed, however, as designers went back to nature for inspiration for their louche, floor-skimming dresses. The bohemian vibe continued with Spice Trail touches including turbans and rich colours and prints.

1980s Everything went big: hair, aspirations and mobile phones, as women began to be taken seriously in the traditionally male-dominated world of work for the first time. Heavily padded shoulders were a sign of strength, while jewel colours reinforced ideas of luxury and wealth.

1990s While catwalk fashion may have taken a more minimal and conceptual direction in the 1990s, street style was heavily influenced by the music scene. Rave culture was all about smiley-adorned pieces teamed with sportswear, while Britpop fans returned to the mod styles of the 1960s with fishtail parkas and feathered haircuts.

2000s With the rise of fast fashion, the shelf life of trends became shorter and shorter, and so in the past decade we cycled through boho, rock chic and bodycon, the latter favoured by a certain faction of the pop charts, Wags and reality TV stars who insisted on keeping bandage dresses and stacked platform heels on life support.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Developer / App Developer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join one of the UK's...

    Recruitment Genius: Retail Deputy Manager / Sales Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen in a Winche...

    Argyll Scott International: Financial Accounting Manager

    £300 - £400 per day: Argyll Scott International: I am currently recruiting on ...

    Recruitment Genius: Field Based Sales Surveyor - OTE £40,000

    £16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Field Based Sales Surveyor is...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?