by Art Chantry:
back in 1966-67, just as the whole “swinging london” scene that peaked with the carnaby sleek mod/fashion scene, the whole thing began to shift. in amercia, teenage pop fashion had started to go psychedelic very quickly. you have to realize how FAST it switched from ‘mop-tops and beatle boots and sports cars” to “long hair, drop in and drop out and drop acid”. it happened in a just a few months – lightning speed in the terms of culture change.
in england that meant that every hipster in the entire country had to change their wardrobes into a more colorful, flowing style to go with the free-from new stoned world. the beatles changed from matching uniforms and clever witticisms to acid drenched flower power gear and smart ass quips mixed with snide observations. suddenly there was something called “pink floyd” to contend with. The dirty sloppy old rolling stones had to find a niche and released “their satanic majesties request” just to keep even.
this also meant a sea change in fashion and design styles. suddenly, “carnaby street” slipped away and a new shop opened up on kings road called (fantasically) “granny takes a trip” (a title of a BBC-banned song by the purple gang). it was opened by nigel waymouth and sheila cohen and offered classic english foppish gear and psychedelic hipster fashion mixed with carefully selected antique clothing (for a high price). almost immediately, the shop was selling their costumes to pink floyd, the beatles, the stones, jimi hendrix, cream (with clapton), the kinks and on and on. all those great clothes you see on those record covers from the era were all likely purchased at “granny takes a trip” (or another close competitor.)
one of the coolest things about the shop was the way it shouted it’s street presence. they changed their exterior as often as they changed the styles. suddenly, overnight, it would switch from a pop/psych portrait of jean harlow to a bright yellow 48 Dodge LITERALLY glued ‘extruding’ from the the front of the shop. this store front approach changed fashion street marketing forever. sure, vegas may have already started blending signage and architecture for a year or two, but it was ‘granny takes a trip’ that shoved the concept into the stoned minds of the world.
the boutique opened in 1966. the exterior i show you here is their second (and by far most famous) storefront from (mostly) 1967. this was the exterior that blew away the entire world. NOBODY had ever seen anything like this before. it’s hard to imagine after all these years of pop/rock shopping mall sigange, but this thing was a cultural detonation. it immediately became a tourist attraction for the entire planet. graphic design twisted on it’s axis further than any single visual statement since surrealism.
this front only lasted for a year or so before they mounted the automobile onto the shopfront instead (all painted yellow, by the way). that was freaky, but not quite as important as this amazing image. i think it was nigel waymouth who actually created this thing. he went on to become THE premier psychedelic poster artist in hipster london, doing all those amazing posters for OZ, the club that was the home base of floyd and hendrix and the rest. waymouth was THE voice of english psych. he continued to be a major player for years to come with the poster group “hapsash and the coloured goat” (which eventually evolved into a rock band). today, waymouth is part of “the living theatre”.
even though this period of style lasted a very short time (only a couple of years. they closed in 1969), it set the path for what was to come. for instance, sheila cohen went on to continue in fashion design and created a great deal of the ‘glam rock’ fashion style. those crazy color platform shoes that people like rod stewart wore in Faces? that was her.
this whole impactful culture smashing “in your fucked face” approach to fashion boutiques pioneered by “granny takes a trip” became the model for all that followed – included being the working model for malcolm maclaren’s and vivien westwood’s “let it rock” boutique. in a strange way, this psychedelic boutique in the swingin’ stoned london scene became the blueprint upon which punk rock was built.