Carnaby Street Undressed is a story of fashion, music and eye opening insights into London's Carnaby Street in its 1960s heyday, told by the owners of the fashion shops that defined the iconic Street, and the popular musicians who were part of the “the scene”.
This includes The Who lead sing Roger Daltrey, Donovan, Frank Allen from the Searchers, Gary Leeds from The Walker Brothers, and Peter Noone from Herman’s Hermits.
The film is the story of a generation that rebelled against the grey conformity of the 1950s with a cultural revolution emanating from Carnaby Street from where it spread across the globe changing fashion and music forever.
This feature length documentary had a prime time screening in the UK on the Yesterday channel in 2011. It was reviewed as Pick of the Week by the Sunday Times and got 4 stars in London’s Time Out magazine.
Carnaby Street Undressed is a story of fashion, music and eye opening insights into London's Carnaby Street in its 1960s heyday, told by the owners of the fashion shops that defined the iconic Street, and the popular musicians who were part of the “the scene”. This includes The Who lead sing Roger Daltrey, Donovan, Frank Allen from the Searchers, Gary Leeds from The Walker Brothers, and Peter Noone from Herman’s Hermits. The film is the story of a generation that rebelled against the grey conformity of the 1950s with a cultural revolution emanating from Carnaby Street from where it spread across the globe changing fashion and music forever.
This a story about a street of firsts: the first time music was played in a shop, the first time men and women's clothes were sold in the same shop, the first time there was fashion for children, the first time the national flag was used as a fashion item, and the first time clothes had colour - lots of bright colours. The film reveals the cultural, philosophical and practical background and responses to these innovations.
The story is told by the proprietors of the main shops that defined Carnaby Street at its peak: Henry Moss (Lady Jane), Robert Orbach (I was Lord Kitchener’s Valet), Tom Salter (Gear) and Warren Gold (Lord John). We hear how they introduced unprecedented innovations in fashion, such as kaftans for men and mini skirts for women that were at the heart of Swinging London and its Summer of Love. The men share amusing memories of what this was like, with revealing stories about the politics, stars, scandals and pure craziness in Carnaby Street. It is a story of cheeky and audacious publicity stunts the media could not resist: live models in windows, fashions shows on window ledges, and free concerts by the biggest pop stars of the era.
The film explores how the fashion and music were interrelated and emerged simultaneously, how one could not have occurred without the other. Musicians such as Roger Daltrey, Donovan, Frank Allen from the Searchers, Gary Leeds from The Walker Brothers, and Peter Noone from Herman’s Hermits describe how Carnaby street was the place they went to get the latest clothes to look different and “hip” for their TV appearances and how their fans would then descend on Carnaby street to buy the clothes they saw them wear on TV. In addition to the musicians themselves, interviewees include Tony Calder of Immediate Records, the 1960s London record label of The Small Faces, who also managed The Rolling Stones.
The film reveals how the offices of many of the top bands, from The Beatles to The Small Faces, were in and around Carnaby Street, making it a hub for musicians. This was another pull factor for the Street where fans would come to see their idols The Rolling Stones and The Kinks go shopping. We hear of the shops where Jimi Hendrix bought the military jacket he made famous and where the Beatles got the jackets used on the Sgt Pepper Lonely Hearts Clubs Band cover.
Carnaby Street and the Sixties is a story of image, and in addition to the fashion proprietors and musicians we hear from people such as Leslie Cavendish, The Beatles hairdresser, who talks about the importance and changing way both men and women wore their hair in order to match the clothes and the music. He explains how these hair trends were established by the musicians themselves who shaped their hair to suit the clothes.
This is a story of how Carnaby Street became a global phenomena, as the Carnaby Street proprietors opened shops across the globe and roads were officially renamed “Carnaby Street” in different continents, while stores in cities from New York to Sydney explicitly sought to emulate the Carnaby Street style.
While the film reflects the fun, frivolity, and the seemingly copious sex and drugs of the era, culminating in the Summer of Love in 1967, it also tells how more than just the latest fad, the clothes, the music and the drugs represented a conscious rejection of the post-World War II conformist past, were an expression freedom, represented in the flower power of the hippies, and a new culture, such as that of the Mods.
While charting the meteoric rise of Carnaby street coming out of the 1950s and influenced by skiffle and rock n’roll music, the film also tracks Carnaby Street’s demise at the end of the 1960s. This fall from grace was attributed to the consequences of drugs overtaking the lives of many of the shop owners and musicians and ultimately the Street becoming what it initially rejected: consumerist and conformist, albeit in a new form.
Now in their sixties and seventies, the musicians, shop owners and other interviewee’s literally revisit Carnaby Street, looking back on the era and reflecting on the impact it has had on their diverse and often turbulent lives, whilst considering the legacy of Carnaby Street and their endeavours.
The film is upbeat, with use of historical footage, archival press cuttings, personal photos, memorabilia and media cartoons. It is a dance in your seat documentary with some of the finest music from the era.
While Carnaby Street is known the world over, this is the first dedicated film to tell its story. With 2010 marking 50 years since the sixties, it is timely to do so. While this is the story of one specific street, it is also the broader story of a decade and a generation.
“Best of the Week ahead” -The Sunday Times
“If you only watch one film, tonight’s Carnaby Street Undressed is recommended” -The Sunday Times