“Swinging London” is a generic term coined by Time magazine in April 1966 and used to describe the fashion, music, cinema and cultural scene which flourished in London in the 1960s and the change in attitude which pervaded the scene.
It was a phenomenon which emphasised the young, the new and the modern during a period of great optimism and hedonism and was regarded as something of a cultural revolution.
Fuelled by growing prosperity, social mobility, and wave after wave of youthful enterprise – after a decade of post-war austerity – the youth of London were ready to party . . .
They rebelled in nearly every way possible, pushing the limits in mind-bending ways, and seemingly overnight, London was the coolest city in the world.
And everything that happened in England’s capital rippled out across the western world and made the planet a cooler place.
By the mid-1960s, young people in other countries were wearing miniskirts and making pilgrimages to Carnaby Street, Savile Row and the King’s Road, while British music was “invading” the four corners of the globe, and the Union Jack became one of the most ubiquitous pop art symbols of the late 1960s.
The city became a “Swinging London” theme park with clubs such as the Bag O’ Nails, the Scotch Of St James and the Ad-Lib in Leicester Place.
Cultural icons of Swinging London included fashion designer Mary Quant; models Twiggy (the “face of 66”) and Jean Shrimpton; trendy photographer David Bailey; film stars such as Michael Caine, Terence Stamp, Julie Christie and David Hemmings; comedians like Tony Hancock, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore; and musical artists including The Kinks, The Who, Small Faces, The Yardbirds and, of course, The Rolling Stones.
“At the beginning of the Sixties, I never knew anyone famous; by the end of it, everyone I knew was famous, and I hadn’t met any new people.”