2010 marks the 50th Anniversary of iconic Carnaby Street – epicentre of Britain’s swinging sixties and origin of such fashion icons as the miniskirt, floral shirts and hipster trousers.
For half a century it has been a hub for music, youth culture and most famously, fashion – breeding generations of new designers, to sit alongside its many international brands and independent boutiques.
In the sixties Carnaby Street was an unprecedented shopping entity, aimed specifically at teenagers and more notably young men. The designs available in the area were innovative and unavailable anywhere else, so Carnaby also became famous as a place for spotting celebrities – the likes of The Beatles could be seen walking the streets without security.
Today, Carnaby Street remains a vibrant hub of activity for the same reasons it originally became famous.
It still celebrates entrepreneurs – two thirds of shops in the area are independent and there are countless diverse bars, restaurants and cafes.
Carnaby is the West End destination of choice for eclectic, original fashion; a must-visit spot for both tourists and locals looking for a special shopping experience. It’s a world away from the huge department stores just around the corner on Oxford Street or Regent Street.
The area is celebrating the sixties, the decade in which it became famous, throughout 2010 with exhibitions, festivals and events to showcase its fashion, design and music heritage. There’s going to be a live music weekend in June and a fashion show in September – check the Carnaby website for up-to-date information on other the events being held.
A free exhibition, Carnaby Street: 1960-2010, is also running 7 days a week until the beginning of April. It features clothes, drawings, photographs, magazine covers, records, archive footage and music from icons such as Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones, to illustrate how the area has evolved.
Need somewhere to stay when you’re visiting Carnaby Street? Here’s our pick of hotels, whether you want traditional or “hip” surroundings:
Traditional: The Stafford
You can’t get more genteel than the Stafford – a 15 minute walk from Carnaby Street – a hotel excelling in the art of service. It has a fabulous wine cellar and one of London’s top concierges. The Stafford is currently in the top 20 London hotels on TripAdvisor and rising nicely up the charts.
Hip: Dean Street Townhouse Hotel
We featured the new Dean Street Townhouse “crash pad” hotel just after it opened in late 2009. Rooms can be small but prices are surprisingly cheap given its location in the heart of Soho. It’s getting good reviews in TripAdvisor where it’s officially classed as a Bed and Breakfast.
It has a “private club” feel to it and a nice restaurant to boot.
Since Carnaby Street is just a stone’s throw from Soho, you may also want to consider some of our suggested stylish hotels near Soho. But whatever you do, don’t miss out on celebrating Carnaby Street’s 50th Anniversary!
Photo credits: Dean Street Townhouse, Stafford Hotel, Bernt Rostad’s photostream.