Granny Takes a Trip  

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Granny takes a trip was an iconic boutique opened in the 1960s in the Kings Road, London, by Nigel Waymouth and Sheila Cohen. The shop brought a radical, iconoclastic approach to the fashion and style of the time, and paved the way for many of the designer boutique outlets that followed in the 1960's and afterwards.



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. Waymouth, a free-lance journalist, came up with the name and was offered the premises at 488 Kings Road, Chelsea, London, a previously unfashionable part of the road known as the World’s End. In the summer of 1965, John Pearse, who had trained as a tailor on Savile Row, agreed to join them in the venture. The shop opened on a wet winter morning in early 1966.

Waymouth, Cohen and Pearse brought a radical, iconoclastic approach to the fashion and style of the time. By the spring of 1966 the shop had quickly achieved worldwide renown and was featured in the famous “Swinging London” edition of Time Magazine. 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 Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith. In the subsequent decade, 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, when the weekly King’s Road Parade would culminate in an obligatory trip to London’s trendiest boutique. Granny's became a Mecca for anyone looking for the latest hip, cool fashions. The shop became a place to hang out for young people, browsing through clothes, listening to new sounds and exchanging latest counter culture ideas.

With an ambience that was a mixture of New Orleans bordello and futuristic fantasy, one would experience a heady feeling of deja vu within its walls, an ambience at once retro and au courant. Marbled patterns papered the walls, providing an exotic backdrop to the rails, which always carried an assortment of brightly coloured clothes. Lace curtains draped the doorway of the only changing room, 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 favoured music.

Changing Facade

Image:Grannytakesatripsmall.jpg The shop also became famous for its constantly changing facade. At one time the entire front was painted with a giant pop-art face of Jean Harlow. Overnight, that was replaced by an actual 1948 Dodge saloon car which appeared to crash out from the window and onto the forecourt. Over the next three years contrasting changes such as this took place at regular intervals.

By the end of the decade, the partnership began to lose momentum. Nigel Waymouth was becoming increasingly more involved in his poster and album cover design work, and John Pearse left for Italy to work with his friends in The Living Theatre Group. Sheila Cohen continued to keep Granny operating but found it too demanding a task without her former partners. In late 1969, Cohen passed on the shop to two New Yorkers, Gene Krell and his partner, Marty. Granny Takes A Trip remained open for another four years, until it closed in 1973.

The name has been appropriated many times, in name, by music groups such as The Purple Gang and clothing stores around the world, but none have matched the cachet of the original store. Innovative and unique, born from the alchemy of the imagination and talents of its three founders, it was the essence of the revolutionary spirit of swinging London in the sixties.


Granny Takes a Trip will be relaunched in spring 2008. The shop has been bought by a developer, who has commissioned Hut Architecture to bring the premises at 488 King’s Road back to life. “It’ll be a 21st century take on the sixties. It’s likely to sell fashion, artwork, and coffee, or a hybrid of all three,” says Hut director Andrew Whiting. The front portion of the scheme will acknowledge the shop’s history, with new insertions joining the original moulded plasterwork and wood flooring. “It will have a shabby Bohemian feel, a kind of architectural archaeology,” says Whiting. To the rear, Hut has designed a new glazed gallery space, with giant timber fins running longitudinally in the ceiling to control solar gain.


  • Decharne, Max, King's Road, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 2005.

See also

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