Swinging London

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Carnaby Street in Soho, London was a centre for fashion and culture during this period

Swinging London is a catch-all term applied to the fashion and cultural scene which flourished in London, in the 1960s.

It was a phenomenon which emphasized the young, the new and the modern. It was a period of optimism and hedonism, and a cultural revolution. One catalyst was the recovery of the British economy after post-World War II hard times had lasted through much of the 1950s. Journalist Christopher Booker, a founder of the satirical magazine Private Eye, recalled the "bewitching" character of the swinging sixties: "There seemed to be no one standing outside the bubble, and observing just how odd and shallow and egocentric and even rather horrible it was".[1]

"Swinging London" was defined by Time magazine in its issue of 15 April 1966,[2] and celebrated in the name of the pirate radio station, Swinging Radio England, that began shortly afterward. However, "swinging" in the sense of hip or fashionable, had been used since the early 1960s. In 1965, Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue magazine, said "London is the most swinging city in the world at the moment".[3]

Although The Beatles came from Liverpool, The Rolling Stones, and the rest of the new culture was London-based. Most of the new fashion designers, models and photographers were young, and packed into a small area in Soho around Carnaby Street, W1., and another area round the King's Road, Chelsea.[4][5]

Fashion & symbols[change | edit source]

During the time of Swinging London, fashion and photography were featured in Queen magazine, which drew attention to fashion designer Mary Quant.[6][7]

The model Jean Shrimpton was another icon and one of the world's first supermodels.[8] She was the world's highest paid and most photographed model of the time.[9][10] Shrimpton was called "The face of the '60s",[11] in which she has been considered by many as "the symbol of Swinging London",[9] and the "embodiment of the 1960s".[12] Other popular models of the era included Veruschka, and Twiggy. Twiggy was called "the Queen of Mod", a label she shared with others, such as Cathy McGowan, who hosted the television rock show, Ready Steady Go! from 1964 to 1966.[13]

Mod-related fashions such as the miniskirt stimulated fashionable shopping areas such as Carnaby Street and the Kings Road, Chelsea. The fashion was a symbol of youth culture.

The British flag, the Union Flag, became a symbol, assisted by events such as England's home victory in the 1966 World Cup. The Mini car (launched in 1959) was used by a fleet of mini-cab taxis highlighted by advertising which covered their paintwork.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Christopher Booker (1980) The Seventies
  2. 'Most famous (if not the first) identification of Swinging London Gilbert, David (2006) "'The youngest legend in history': cultures of consumption and the mythologies of Swinging London" The London Journal 31(1): 1–14 doi:10.1179/174963206X113089
  3. Quoted by John Crosby, Weekend Telegraph, 16 April 1965; and in Pearson, Lynn (2007) "Roughcast textures with cosmic overtones: a survey of British murals, 1945-80" Decorative Arts Society Journal 31: pp. 116–37
  4. Salter, Tom 1970. Carnaby Street. Hobbs, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. ISBN 0-85138-009-3
  5. Decharne, Max 2005. King's Road, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London.
  6. Barry Miles, 2009. The British Invasion: The Music, the Times, the Era Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2009
  7. Ros Horton, Sally Simmons, 2007. Women Who Changed the World
  8. Burgess, Anya (2004-05-10). "Small is still beautiful". Daily Post. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-116426956.html.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "The girl behind the world's most beautiful face". Family Weekly. 1967-02-08. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=6wssAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3cYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3967,1120155&dq.
  10. Cloud, Barbara (1967-06-11). "Most photographed model reticent about her role". The Pittsburg Press. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=REsqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=pE8EAAAAIBAJ&pg=7034,4428159&dq.
  11. Jean Shrimpton, the famed face of the '60s, sits before her Svengali's camera One More time. 07. 1977-05-30. http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20067955,00.html.
  12. Patrick, Kate (2005-05-21). "New Model Army". Scotsman.com News. http://news.scotsman.com/ViewArticle.aspx?articleid=2628354.
  13. Fowler, David 2008. Youth Culture in Modern Britain, 1920–1970: from ivory tower to global movement – a new history Palgrave Macmillan. p134