Monday 7 February 2011

Carnaby Street 68

Most people will know that the media image of what '1968' looks like bears little resemblance to the real thing. On history programmes you tend to see that shot of a young man trying on a guardsman's jacket in 'I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet' and then maybe John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls Royce followed by the Post Office Tower sprouting up through some bomb sites. All cobblers of course - in many areas the visual cues that we associate with the sixties only started appearing in the seventies, with long hair and bright bri-nylon clothes. Most of the people in C.E Fudge's photographs have a timeless, crisply preppy look with the shops and architecture taking the lead in appearing to be futuristic. Of course, these precincts and developments were new, many of them under 10 years old but it doesn't always yell '1968' when you look at them.

To remedy this, the next set of pics were taken when C.E. travelled to the nexus of swinging London to photograph some of the boutique shop fronts on Carnaby Street. The architecture isn't new, but the design aesthetic is. Let's have a look.

Here's Pop, already showing signs of self-parody judging by the display in the window.

His 'N' Hers is notable for being orange and looking a bit like a psychedelic Greek restaraunt. The flags are good though, as is the 'Detroit Cleaners Ltd' next door and the old Pepsi sign on the other side.

A little research tells us that this is the painted brickwork above 'Lord John' on the corner of Carnaby and Ganton Streets. Shades of the Apple Boutique, although I imagine that mural wasn't up for very long before it was whitewashed.

A quick look at Habitat, although C.E. tells us that this was on Tottenham Court Road. I like the jar in the window that says 'Beans' on it. Lessons in design no.1 - how to design a timeless shop brand.

Sacha was a shoe shop and looks a bit gloomy to be honest, like an old seaside aquarium. Of more interest is the cinema next door - apparently the Academy 1-2-3, quite an important picture house that had an art-house reputation (although they are showing Yellow Submarine by the looks of things). And I'd bet a guinea that that's a Wimpy Bar next door. There are still two in Doncaster!

Here's the one that really grabbed me - the Chelsea Drug Store. Now an icon for fans of sixties culture and design, it housed bars, shops and a chemist and is shown in its glory in 'A Clockwork Orange'. In this picture it looks a little like the foyet of a provincial leisure centre. Come on C.E.! Go inside!

Bugger. Looking more futuristic than before, C.E. apparently went inside the Drugstore and didn't take any photos, although it is recommended for 'the audio-visual experience and the powerful air-conditioning'. If you've seen the interior in 'A Clockwork Orange' you will know how startling and exciting it was, and it tells us everything and nothing about the nature of modern London and modern culture that the building is now a MacDonalds.

That's it for specific site visits, although C.E. did take some photographs of markets, which I will share with you next time. And as a stop press, top BC reader Christopher Marsden has contacted me with some information re the identity of C.E. Fudge. But that's for next time..


  1. Ahh, Chelsea Drugstore, as mentioned in the favoured beat combo The Rolling Stones Song 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'

  2. Forgot about that! Where he meets Mister Jimmy, who's looking really ill.

  3. Really weird (and sad) how McDonalds (or whoever came before them) de-modernized the facade by adding 1900s-ish elements.

  4. It was a lot better then!

  5. I love your blog. For a fan of ugly concrete architecture, there's plenty to look at.