King's Road, Chelsea
King's Road originally led from St James's Palace to Fulham. It gained its name from being the private road of Charles II (1630-1685) although it was used by the public. In 1830 it ceased to be private.
During the 19th century Chelsea, including King's Road, became a bohemian haven. Artists, writers, poets came to live and breathe the life of a Romantic. During the 20th century, Chelsea kept its bohemian associations but also became associated with fashion and youth.
From the 1960s onwards successive generations transfomed the road into a place that represented 'Swinging London' just as much as Carnaby Street. Where Carnaby Street was the catwalk for men, Kings Road played the same role for women. To get the latest look and to be seen in the right shop, young women flocked to this hub of style.
Small fashion boutiques were at the heart of King's Road. Mary Quant opened her first boutique 'Bazaar' on King's Road in 1955. She designed and made clothes that 'were much more for life- much more for real people, much more for being young and alive in.' Her clothes signified a sense of freedom from the constraints of postwar Britain. This mood was to become associated with Kings Road for the next twenty to thirty years. Many of the 1960s famous boutiques set up on the street, from Top Gear to Granny takes a Trip.
During the 1970s Kings Road became the epicentre of Punk culture.Malcolm McLaren and Vivien Westwood opened a boutique in 1971 at the southern, run-downend of the street. Originally called Let it Rock, the shop evolved through various names to become the notorious SEX. McLaren was also the manager of 'The Sex Pistols'.With their anarchic attitude and extreme clothes the group became a living advert for McLaren and Westwood's shop.King's Road became famous for the crowds of punks who paraded up and down it each weekend.
By the end of the 20th century Kings Road had been somewhat gentrified and its independent boutiques had been replaced by branches of chain stores. However, it remained one of London's key shopping streets, and a place for the young to see and be seen.
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