Granny Takes a Trip

granny

Granny Takes a Trip was a boutique opened in 1966 in Chelsea, London. The shop remained open until the mid-70s and has been called the ‘first psychedelic boutique in the ‘Swinging London’ in the 1960s.” It was also the name of a Purple Gang song of the 1960s named after the store and banned by the BBC.

The boutique was the brainchild of two young Londoners, Nigel Waymouth and Sheila Cohen, who were looking for an outlet for Cohen’s ever-increasing collection of antique clothes.  By the spring of 1966 the shop had achieved worldwide renown. They paved the way for many of the designer boutiques that followed, such as Mr. Freedom, Alkasura, Let It Rock, and later the more ambitious enterprises of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith.

Over the next eight years the shop clothed London’s fashionable young men and women, including many major rock performers. A constant stream of people visited the shop, especially on Saturdays during the weekly King’s Road Parade. Initially the ambience was a mixture of New Orleans bordello and futuristic fantasy. Marbled patterns papered the walls, with rails carrying an assortment of brightly-colored clothes. Lace curtains draped the doorway of its single changeroom, and a beaded glass curtain hung over the entrance at the top of steps, which led on into the shop. In the back room, an Art Deco Wurlitzer blasted out a selection of music.

The shop became known for its changing facade. In 1966 it featured successively giant portraits of Native American chiefs Low Dog and Kicking Bear. In 1967 the entire front was painted with a giant pop-art face of Jean Harlow. That was later replaced by an actual 1948 Dodge saloon car which appeared to crash out from the window and onto the forecourt.

By the end of the decade, the partnership had lost momentum. Nigel Waymouth had become involved in poster and album cover design work as one half of Hapshash & The Coloured Coat (which then evolved into a musical group), and John Pearse left for Italy to work with The Living Theatre Group. In late 1969 Cohen and Waymouth sold the business to London fashion entrepreneur Freddie Hornik, who had previously worked at Chelsea’s Dandie Fashions.

For a few months the previous year this had been The Beatles short-lived bespoke store Apple Tailoring. Hornik brought in two New Yorkers, Gene Krell and Marty Breslau, and the team introduced a new, more dandified phase with rhinestone and applique’d velvet suits and stack-heeled boots sold to such performers as Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards.

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