Carnaby Street still swinging
GET BACK: 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.
It was the hub of the Swinging 60s, dressed the likes of Jimi Hendrix and inspired hit songs.
London's Carnaby Street - the place to be seen when The Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Who were topping the charts and pounding its pavement - is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its heyday.
Carnaby Street: 1960 - 2010 brings together photographs, outfits and memorabilia in a book and free exhibition documenting the iconic thoroughfare that has been so influential in shaping British style and music.
One outfit featured in the exhibition at No.38 Carnaby Street is a psychedelic dress made of paper.
Australian co-author and co-curator Judith Clark told the Daily Express: "It was all about disposable income and disposable everything.
"You'd go to Carnaby Street every Saturday and buy a new outfit. They weren't clothes to keep or be handed down from mother to daughter or father to son."
That's in contrast to Savile Row, just a stone's throw away, where bespoke men's suits cost thousands and last for years.
Clark's colleague, Amy de la Haye, said the Carnaby Street set's penchant for throwaway fashion made gathering artefacts for the exhibition tricky.
"The stuff produced was hard to get hold of, like postcards," she told AAP.
"It wasn't something people valued."
Carnaby Street's remarkable history dates back to 1665, when it was the site of one of the first "pest houses" or hospitals for victims of the Great Plague.
A century later, poet William Blake apparently lived in the street.
But it was in the late 1950s, when Scottish entrepreneur John Stephen opened his first clothing store at No.5 stocking highly fashionable and affordable items that the buzz began.
By 1966, The Kinks were singing about "the Carnabetian army" in Dedicated Follower of Fashion.
Pete Townshend of The Who fondly remembered the street's heyday and his thoughts are recorded as part of the exhibition.
"Carnaby Street was home to a club called The Roaring Twenties," he said.
"That was a Jamaican place that played Blue Beat stuff through huge speakers, and young men in desert boots and short macs with porkpie hats danced, rocking their heels back and forth.
"That was Carnaby Street at night. In the daytime it was where we bought slim strides and pink tab-collar shirts."
These days, Carnaby Street is home to modern clothing stores and cafes with 60 per cent of the shops independently owned.
Fashion historian de la Haye said Carnaby Street was modern but had remained true to its 1960s values.
"While it's moved with the times, you can still eat, drink, shop and find something a bit different but you're not paying couture prices," she said.
"In more recent years, it's been more forward looking so it's drawn on its past but not in a nostalgic way.
"You can go to any high street up and down England and you wouldn't know what city you were in, but if you're in Carnaby Street, you know you're in Carnaby Street."
The exhibition runs until April 10.