Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Dandy Fashion: That hip 1960s Pearly King look Pete Townshend wore so well...

I've always admired these images of Ian Grey, managing director of Gear Boutique in Carnaby Street, and his wife Ann. The couple are photographed wearing what appears to be a homage to the traditional garb of the Cockney 'Pearly Kings and Queens' as Swinging London began to embrace all things quintessentially British. I don't have a reference date for the first picture but the second was taken in 1966 and I have always thought of them as a before and after shot respectively. But apart from these two photos and some of Pete Townshend wearing a similar look, I haven't seen that many other examples of it, which leads me to believe that perhaps it may have been a contender for the pages of...Mini-Trend (Yvonne's style bible from Smashing Time). But however fleeting it may have been, by 1967 the idea had definitely moved on from the traditional and eventually translated into some truly beautiful rock 'n' roll dandy finery befitting of the times. And even if no one else was brave enough to carry it off, Pete Townshend certainly wore it well on more than one occasion, as can be seen in the final few photographs. There is also some amazing live footage of him wearing one of his most spectacular pearly jackets to full effect on stage at The Village Theatre in New York in the video that I've uploaded.

    Ian & Ann Grey of Gear Boutique, Carnaby Street.

                                       Ian Grey and his wife Ann in 1966. Photograph by Philip Townshend.

Would-be 'Pearly King' Pete Townshend serenading a captive audience. 

                                      The Who, San Francisco, June 1967. Photograph by Jim Marshall.

Pete Townshend backstage at The Saville Theatre London, 22nd October 1967, photograph by Chris Morphet. Chris documented The Who's career over a five year period, this is a quote from an interview with him in Q in 2004 about this particular picture. "I think it resembles an Italian oil portrait painting from a previous century. Pete looks so elegant, decorative and decadent. His wife Karen used to make a lot of his clothes, but I don't think she made this pearly king jacket. It was a shock when he went from wearing this regalia to a boiler suit and boots. But it was an indication that the group had moved on".

                             Pre-Monterey Pop Festival performance June 1967 photograph by Jim Marshall.

                                       Pete Townshend, Cow Palace, San Francisco, 18th November 1967.

                                                                 IMAGE CREDITS
Images scanned by Sweet Jane from Radical Rags Fashions of the Sixties by Joel Lobenthal, Swinging Sixties Fashion in London and beyond 1955-1970 V&A Publishing, The Who Maximum R&B by Richard Barnes, The Who Special Edition Q magazine 2004 and Teenset Magazine 1967.


  1. Don't think I've ever heard The Who doing Love Hurts before. Great find.

    1. Thanks, only discovered it quite recently myself.

  2. I love your blog ! I think we love the same music ... :) , maybe you can take a look ?

    Lisa xx


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