On a street in London’s Soho neighborhood, young fashion and pop culture collided – and the explosion continues to be heard a half-century later. In 1966 Time magazine wrote “perhaps nothing illustrates the new swinging London better than Carnaby Street, which is crammed with a cluster of the 'gear' boutiques where the girls and boys buy each other clothing.” Innovative, creative and controversial, young men and women ran the shops and bought the ‘gear’ - for the first time creating what they themselves wanted to wear. People, like their clothing, were bright and bold, it was the center of the 1960s fashion revolution, it was Carnaby Street.
At this upcoming Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, October 12th and 13th in the Metropolitan Pavilion, show goers will be able to travel back and buy fashions from this influential decade as well as a wide variety of vintage clothing and accessories from the last 100 years.
During this two day event the theme of Carnaby Street will be highlighted with a unique exhibition curated specifically for this event. Quintessential labels like Biba, Mary Quant and John Stephen, which are not only rare in the U.S. but rare period, will be showcased along with other boutique labels such as Granny Takes a Trip, Take 6, Bus Stop, John Marks, Irving Sellers and Chelsea Girl.
And beginning September 26th, the exhibition items will also be available for purchase at www.manhattanvintage.com. The newly expanded website will feature this sale as well as special curated collections put together throughout the year so that vintage lovers can buy direct from their favorite fashion resource – The Manhtattan Vintage Clothing Show – online.
Now, what was revolutionary about Carnaby Street, and the surrounding area, was that beginning in 1955 and continuing for over a decade, it was the hub of experimentation and innovation. The shortest skirts were worn with the highest boots. Clothing wasn’t just fabric but plastic and chains too. Men dressed in bright colors and bold prints like women did. And vintage clothing stores, selling everything from uniforms to their grandmother’s Victorian clothing were worn like new.
Trend-setting British designer Mary Quant said “Once only the rich, the Establishment, set the fashion.” But that soon changed. Mary Quant opened her first boutique, Bazaar, in 1955 when she was 21 and John Stephen opened his first shop a year later when he was 22. Within a few years other boutiques began to pop up throughout London. Within a decade not only were young people dictating their own fashions, but had a significant influence on the clothing of all ages and even around the world. Mary Quant was selling in J.C. Penny in 1962 and started Ginger Group, an international wholesale ready-to-wear company while John Stephen, who had over a dozen stores across London, was nicknamed "The £1m Mod" and "The King Of Carnaby Street."
This exhibition and theme couldn’t be more timely! Come check out what all the fuss is about!
Photography by Zandy Mangold