Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Swinging Revolution (1966)


The sartorial vision of Niel Winterbottom (left), along with a young Ossie Clark (centre) and John Crittle (right) photographed in their finery against Antony Little's fin de siecle style backdrop at Hung On You in 1966 by Terence Spencer for Life Internationalquite possibly makes this my favourite cover story by the magazine from this period! Inside, you'll find an eight-page report on the continued rise and rise of the revolution in menswear emanating from London―and although some of the same content had previously been used by the magazine in another feature on the revolution in male clothes just two months earlier, I would still imagine that when this particular issue arrived through their parent's letter box over fifty years ago, it merely succeeded in reinforcing the thoughts that many a teenage son already had about heading to where the action was, to get 'The Look'...

Ossie Clark, John Crittle, Hung on You Cale Street,

Above: Niel Winterbottom, Ossie Clark and John Crittle at Hung On You, 22 Cale Street, July 1966. Photo by 
Terence Spencer. *a note on the spelling of Niel Winterbottom, in this instance I'm transcribing the name as it was printed in the magazine, however, I have come across two variations over the years which include Neil Winterbottom and Neil Winterbotham. 




It all began with the teen-age ''mods'' (Life International, July 27, 1964) who spent most of their pocket money on flamboyant clothes. Now the frills and flowers are being adopted in other strata of Britain's society, and the male fashions born in London have joined the theater among the British exports that aren't lagging. The way-out styles already have appeared in such disparate metropolises as Paris and Chicago and may eventually change the whole raison d'être of male dress. Photographed by Terence Spencer, the sartorial sights of London and Paris shown on these pages—exemplify the clothes that threaten the staid ''sad sack'' which European and American males have considered de rigueur. The explanation? The new clothes, says John Taylor, editor of London's Tailor and Cutter,'' are based on the sexual excitement principle rather than on the respectability and security motif.''


Peering through the art nouveau window of Biba (designed by Antony Little), one of London's most popular boutiques, Model Richard Asman is investing in a common costume of the London Look—a checked version of British battle dress with a Bob Dylan cap (unrumpled). Photograph by Terence Spencer. 

In Le Duke of Bedford pub (like British clothes, British pubs are ''in''), Actor Horst Buchholz is wearing a tight, white Rudy Valentino-style suit bought from the leading avant-garde male couturier of Paris, Pierre Cardin, who closely watches London's styles. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

The garish London garb has crossed one ocean. American teenagers, like the Chicago boys above, are shedding their blue jeans for checked pants, dazzling shirts—though now and then retaining local flavor with a cowboy hat. Photograph by Henry Grossman.

If  You’re Not Way Out‚ 
You’re On Your Way Out’
The man who fomented London's male fashion revolution is 29-year-old John Stephen, who five years ago opened a small shop on Carnaby Street. Since that time, he has opened eight more men's shops on that street, 14 others in the London area, and is $15 million richer. Stephen created the Carnaby Street Look which emphasizes, among other things, wide op-arty ties, turtle-neck sweaters and flowered shirts, boots and tight checked trousers. One secret of his success is the determination of London's young men to dress differently from their bowler-hatted elders. As one boy said in a boutique called Hung On You: ''If your clothes aren't way out, you're on the way out.''

In typical new-look attire, turtle-neck sweater and checked jacket, John Stephen lounges with customers on his purple and gold Cadillac parked outside one of his Carnaby Street shops. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Brandishing this summer's latest Carnaby Style (solid-color shirt, white collar and cuffs, op-art tie). Baron Nikolai Soloviev lunches with Jenny Philips in the Guys and Dolls coffee shop. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Michael Chaplin, son of comedian and the author of ''I Couldn't Smoke the Grass on My Father's Lawn,'' poses in 1920s garb at Granny Takes a Trip shop with (Nigel Waymouth) one of the owners. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

The Kinks, a popular rock 'n' roll group, created the top hit song ''Dedicated Follower of Fashion'': He thinks he is a flower to be looked at...He flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly.''  (*Dave Davies wearing an incredible pair of thigh-high leather boots!). Photograph by Terence Spencer

Elegant Edwardian Attire
 of Chelsea's Aristocrats
London's fashion revolution is not all teenagers and pop singers in op-arty ties and thigh-high boots. A new aristocratic tailoring establishment such as Blades (below) is being influenced by the Carnaby Look, and Lord Snowdon and the Duke of Bedford wear styles of the way-out boutiques of Chelsea's King's Road as well as Carnaby Street. The Chelsea shops offer several elegant variations on the new attire such as a 1920s Silent Movie Look and an increasingly popular Edwardian Look like that flaunted by the two youths opposite, and by Christopher Gibbs. Says Gibbs, who is male fashion editor of Vogue and high priest of the Edwardian Look: ''We were revolted by the ugliness of suits of the regular 'good' tailor. We encouraged friends to dig into their heirlooms, to wear old clothes, to turn their backs on ugliness and conformism.''

Actor David Hemmings is being fitted in a Carnaby-like, flowery-lined jacket by Eric Joy, co-owner and top designer of Blades, a new London couturier that caters to the upper classes. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Three young London elegants take their lunch in a popular Victorian pub, the Salisbury. Michael Williams (left), who lives ''only for my car and my clothes.'' wears a long, velvet-collared 19th Century jacket over patterned trousers. Ossie Clark (see cover) sports a wildly patterned tie, a revival from the '30s. Niel Winterbottom, dressed in battle jacket on the cover, wears a floral Oscar Wilde-an tie with oversized knot while his date, Julia Cooke, adds to the period flavor with a fur boa. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Christopher Gibbs

 Christopher Gibbs. Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Trinidad-born designer Christopher Lynch, (second from left) discusses the new ''Chelsea Look'' for this summer: The Victorian Suit, double-breasted, cinched, and above all, white.'' (*Note: Although uncredited, on the far left, is Michael Fish of Mr Fish, and on the far right is David Mlinaric). Photograph by Terence Spencer.

Fashions Out of This World
France's rival to John Stephen is Pierre Cardin, who last year made $6 million on his ready-to-wear clothes alone. Cardin's line includes everything from the tightly fitted suits (below left) that appeal to diplomats and businessmen to fashions that parallel the Carnaby Street and Chelsea themes—checked trousers with an Edwardian stripe down the side and long checked double-breasted jacket (below). Seeing the soft, accordion-pleated boots on the youth below, a journalist remarked that they made the wearer look like a spaceman. ''Yes,'' said Cardin, ''You might say they're out of this world.'' 

The male fashion revolution has also ''switched on'' parts of the U.S., as shown in the photographs opposite. By fall John Stephen's clothes will be selling in 17 American stores. ''The English influence is the biggest thing in men's clothes since the Ivy League Look,'' said the vice president of a New York store. ''As long as it's from London or looks like it, it will sell.'' What do the English think of the revolution they've started? Some, like political commentator Henry Fairlie, suggest it's a sign that Albion is about to sink giggling into the sea and that the only hope is a Puritan revival. Others, like Julie Christie, think ''isn't it nice that men can look beautiful and smell nice nowadays without being called sissies!''

                        Photographs (left page) by Terence Spencer, (right page) Henry Grossman.

All content scanned and transcribed by Sweet Jane from LIFE International, 11th July, I966. Cover photograph by Terence Spencer, all other photographs by Terence Spencer and Henry Grossman (see individual photo credits above). You'll find further information about Antony Little & Biba in one of my previous posts. A transcript from an industry discussion about the future of tailoring from a 1971 issue of The Tailor and Cutter which includes contributions from Eric Joy, designer and co-owner of Blades. Discover more about antiques dealer and collector Christopher Gibbs. David Hemmings, actor, director, and sometimes singer. View some examples of the lesser-known John Stephen womenswear range. An interview with Julie Christie from the documentary film 'Tonight let's all make love in London' (1967). And finally, an interview with Michael Chaplin (son of Charlie) and author of I Couldn't Smoke the Grass on My Father's Lawn.


  1. Top Shelf Stuff Sweet Jane, where was the Guys & Dolls coffee shop ?

    1. Thanks Kosmo! It was located at 74 King's Road, Chelsea.

    2. Cheers, any idea about the whereabouts of Le Duke of Bedford pub in Paris ? Seems a bit odd an English boozer in Paree, but I think "yer actual" Duke of Bedford had a French restaurant moved to his estate, brick by brick !

    3. No idea Kosmo, but there was definitely a craze for all things English there at the time. Check out these ITN clips, featuring a pub in Paris called The Sir Winston Churchill and more!