Carnaby Street celebrates 50 years of style

Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:29am EST
 
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By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Carnaby Street, epicenter of Britain's Swinging Sixties revolution and spiritual home of fashion milestones like the miniskirt, is marking half a century of trend-setting.

Once home to a pest house for plague victims, the iconic street has had a long and varied history, but it was its influence on fashion, music and youth culture in the 1960s that first propelled it onto the world stage.

A place where unique design and independent boutiques rub shoulders with the flagship stores of international brands, Carnaby Street remains one of London's best-known shopping destinations 50 years on.

"If it was just like another high street it wouldn't be so interesting," said 1960s photographer Philip Townsend, whose subjects have included The Rolling Stones and model Twiggy.

"You get small firms that are having a go just like we did in the 60s ... That is why I think it has kept its appeal."

Townsend's work features in a free exhibition, "Carnaby Street: 1960-2010", which opened on Friday and is part of a series of events this year to celebrate the fashion, music and history of the 12 streets which comprise the Carnaby area.

The exhibition centers around a three dimensional timeline -- featuring an assortment of objects including drawings, magazine covers and vinyl records -- which illustrates the key people and events in the area's transformation from little more than a field with a disused windmill 500 years ago.

Housed in a vacant shop at number 38, it also features a selection of clothes, such as a psychedelic paper mini dress from the late 60s, which provide a glimpse of how Carnaby Street's style has evolved over the decades.   Continued...

 
<p>A girl stands outside the 'Carnaby Street: 1960 - 2010' exhibition in central London February 25, 2010. Carnaby Street, epicentre of Britain's Swinging Sixties revolution and spiritual home of fashion milestones like the miniskirt, is marking half a century of trend-setting. REUTERS/Jas Lehal</p>