Granny Takes A Trip was the radical boutique which changed fashion – and the way clothes are sold – forever.
//John Pearse, Sheila Cohen and Nigel Waymouth (in Granny’s print jacket)//
As presented in the definitive account in Chapter 10 of THE LOOK , Granny’s was created in late 1965 at 488 King’s Road by three young friends: artist Nigel Waymouth, his girlfriend Sheila Cohen and Saville Row-trained tailor John Pearse.
//Early 1966: Waymouth (right) with friend Michael Chaplin. Pic: Rex Features//
Opened early in 1966, everything about Granny’s was fashion forward; rather than following the prevailing Carnaby Street trend in pop disposability, the trio pioneered “vintage” and authenticity by trading in the original Victorian and Edwardian garments collected by Cohen.
//Mid 66: Low Dog//
These were supplemented by Pearse contributing fine tailoring in interesting fabrics, with Waymouth handling designs for long-collared shirts and tight trousers and the ever-changing retail environment.
//Granny’s guys: The Floyd and Ossie//
Within three months the shop was featured in the famous Time magazine feature which signalled the arrival of Swinging London, and a few weeks later the team rang the changes with the first overhaul.
//Late 66: Kicking Bear. Pic Topfoto//
With Jimi Hendrix, Ossie Clark, Anita Pallenberg, Brigitte Bardot and the visiting Andy Warhol set hanging out, Granny’s triggered the boutique boom and influenced the stores which followed in its wake: Hung On You, Dandie Fashions, Kleptomania, Mr Freedom, Paradise Garage and ultimately, of course, those run by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road.
//Newsreel footage featuring Nigel and Granny’s from 1.00min//
The most familiar frontage was, of course, Waymouth’s pop rendition of 30s movie star Jean Harlow.
//1967: Pop art Jean Harlow//
This attracted the media from all over the world and featured in the George Melly-scripted movie Smashing Time. But the innocence of that image was far removed form the reality; with the Velvet Underground’s first album droning in the background amid the murk, Granny’s was actually a hip and heavy place.
//1968: Black and gold Dodge. Pic: Rex Features//
The vibe was reflected in the coup-de-grace delivered when the owners bolted the front-half of Pearse’s decrepit Dodge onto the shop window so that it jutted surreally onto the street. The car itself underwent a few makeovers – memorably in black and gold with glittering stars and also canary yellow – while Waymouth’s graphic design venture with Michael English, Hapshash & The Coloured Coat, dominated the poster and sleeve art of the Summer Of Love.
//1968: Canary yellow. Pic: Pictorial Press//
Hapshash mutated into a band which recorded two albums, and the original Granny’s team went their separate ways in 1969, leaving the business in the care of manager Freddie de Hornick.
//Granny’s in the early 70s//
He drafted in the New York hipsters Gene Krell and Marty Breslau who presided over the store’s next incarnation as provider of velvet suits and other fine accoutrements to the rock crowd into the early 70s with branches in LA and New York.
//488 King’s Road autumn 2007//
The premises became a greengrocer’s and then a restaurant before closing for a period. A couple of years back they were acquired by property developer/art dealer Tim Morel who is refurbishing the site to reopen as a gallery/coffee house and fashion store in tribute to the important place it occupies in British pop culture.
Sheila Cohen has disappeared from view, and not been in contact for several years with her partners in one of the most exciting adventures in rock and pop fashion.