Granny Takes A Trip: A Psychedelic Boutique!

Posted: 31/05/2023 @ 12:50PM

Turn on, Tune in, Drop Out.


The era of psychedelia and the boutiques that flourished and grew alongside it!


As the 1960s progressed, music, fashion and recreational activities became more experimental. Amidst the spectre of liquid light shows, hazy smoke filled rooms and the psychedelic sounds of the underground a new subculture was born. Buoyed by the emergence of out there zines, the underground press and the metamorphosis of music, those that desired caught a momentous wave. Established and new artists and swathes of the worlds youth, all championed the cause, psychedelic disciples flicking through pages of the International Times, Oz and Freindz, dreaming of tomorrows, feeding off freedom and wearing the latest threads from boutiques such as Granny Takes A Trip, Mr Fish, Tommy Nutter, Jump Like Alice and Apple Boutique! 


The Acid Test!


One of the most famous and first Psychedelic Boutiques was Granny Takes A Trip, the brainchild of two London entrepreneurs, Sheila Cohen and Nigel Waymouth. John Pearse, a Savile Row trained tailor (known as the Mod Tailor) soon joined the venture and the psychedelic triumvirate embarked upon creating a unique fashion legacy. 448 Kings Road, Chelsea and the unfashionable (at that stage) Worlds End was to play host to the eclectic blend of vintage bordello, Vaudevillian style and futuristic fashions. The experimental exterior façade, ever changing and ever captivating, works of art that drew the eye and drew thee in. Inspired by Victorian style, decadent dandyism and Oriental design, Granny Takes A Trip featured old vintage styles, often re-worked by the hands of John Pearse into new fashionable works of art. The Juxtaposition of the two words; Granny and Trip appeared to symbolise the ventures ideology, whereby the past meets the future, two entirely different generations emphatically fused to create a bona fide article of modern mid-century style. The rise of drug counterculture and trends for Victoriana thoughtfully encapsulated in the offbeat name, Granny Takes A Trip was genuinely in tune with Psychedelia. 


The premium fabrications and thoughtful tailoring that went in to the fashions at Granny Takes A Trip reflected in the prices. The famed William Morris floral designs like the Golden Lilly Jacket worn by George Harrison and garments that utilised Liberty fabrics were priced accordingly, desirable all the same.


Take a Trip Inside…


The interior of Granny Takes A Trip, described by Nigel Waymouth as New Orleans Bordello featured blown up versions of Aubrey Beardsley’s risqué postcards, hand marbled wallpaper and at the rear of the shop was a grand Wurlitzer Jukebox. The atmospheric surroundings were infused with purple paint, the smell of incense and an abundance of vintage Victoriana to envelop the senses and entice you in to the wonderful world of Granny Takes A trip. The fashions and décor were intrinsic and integral to the overall aesthetic, a bold experiment in Art Nouveau. The shop mimicked the very essence of Art Nouveau with its dynamism, movement and cohesion of interior styling and textiles unifying every aspect of the shop. The premise that one should utilise the means and knowledge of the present environment chimed with Art Nouveau phiolosophy and the boutiques own ethos. The very fact that famed proponents of Art Nouveau movement such as William Morris had their time served designs re-fashioned into new Psychedelic attire resonated with boutiques customers and bought Modernisme and Stile Liberty to London’s West end in a new and innovative way. Author Salmon Rushdie, who lived in a flat above the shop remembers the store being quite a scary place and it seems this ambience was in some part deliberate, so as to ward off and intimidate those patrons that weren’t submersed in the scene or part of an In Crowd.



 The ever changing façade of Granny Takes A Trip. 


Avis Aux Artistes et Artisans…


A little advice to artists and artisans. If the window of your beloved boutique gets smashed, turn it In to a work of art! …


… and that’s exactly what Nigel Waymouth did when the window of Granny Takes A trip was smashed. As part of Hapsash and the Coloured Coat with Michael English, Waymouth designed lasting images that will forever define 1960s psychedelic counterculture. Waymouth and English’s art was and still is coveted by many. They created a grand collection of psychedelic masterpieces, of the era works of art, moments in time captured in technicolour. Whilst Hapsash and Waymouth fashioned collectible artefacts from a unique time in Britain’s history, some of the creations are consigned to pictorial archives, pieces lost, but captured in imagery… notable parts of this are indeed the façade of his Granny Takes A Trip Boutique.


In 1966, successive murals of Native American Chiefs, Low Dog and Kicking Bear with gradient sunburst background graced the exterior of the store - The colourful sunburst design seamlessly blending in to the door. A giant painting of 1930s Hollywood star, Jean Harlow, emerged a year later, a blend of Pop Art, Art Deco and Art Nouveau styling. An icon of the Silver Screen, Harlow’s image, somehow perfectly suited the fashions, curiosities and objet d’art that could be observed and procured by walking through the painted platinum blonde locks in to the boutique beyond. In 1968 and 1969 the front chassis of a 1947 Dodge Automatic greeted passers by (albeit in slightly differing guises). A twist of Automotive Americana at the Worlds End. There’s something kind of symbolic about a car that found fame in the Naughty Fourties taking a road trip and seemingly crashing  through the window of the swinging sixties. Further supporting the rationale of past meeting present and vintage meeting contemporary in vivid abstract style.


This is the in place to be!


Granny Takes A Trip quickly amassed an elite clientele. The enviable position that came with having such a high profile customer base ensured that press and promotion came relatively easy. A veritable who’s who of pop stars would parade Granny Takes A Trip’s wares. Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison adorned the iconic William Morris Jackets, chrysanthemum and Golden Lily respectively. The Beatles would also wear Granny shirts on the inner sleeve of the Revolver album. The Animals posed for photographs outside the shop with the aforementioned Native American era of facades serving as the backdrop, whilst the Purple Gang even recorded their song called Granny Takes A Trip as a homage to the boutique. The Rolling Stones and the Pretty Things also perused and purchased garb from the store as did Anita Pallenberg. Roy Wood of the Move, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix experience were also snapped wearing Granny’s attire… and the list goes on!


What become of Granny’s?


As the 1960s drew to a close, the momentum and to some extent, the enthusiasm that the trio shared for Granny Takes A Trip was beginning to fade as other interests took centre stage. Waymouth as one half of Hapsash and the Coloured Coat with partner Michael English became more involved in poster and album cover design. John Pearse meanwhile left for Italy and started work with the Living Theatre Group. Pearse had disagreed with Cohen and Waymouth’s hippie vision for the shop. He preferred a more tailored style and the pair clashed over the direction of the business.  A sale of the store to former Dandie fashions man, Freddie Hornick was agreed and new era of Granny’s was about to begin!


From Dandie Fashions to Granny Takes A Trip


In 1969 Cohen, Waymouth and Pearse sold the business to fashion entrepreneur, Freddie Hornick. Having worked with Dandie Fashions as a precursor to his new venture, Hornick set about Dandifying Granny’s with appliqued velvet suits, stacked heels and platform boots ushering in a new wave of 70s glam looks. Famous patrons included Sir Paul McCartney, Gram Parson, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards and Marc Bolan. Hornick had bought in Gene Krell and Marty Breslau, two Americans to oversee the operation. Krell had a background in tailoring and Breslau focused on the business side of things. Hornick proceeded to expand the Granny’s name internationally and opened two more successful boutiques in New York and Los Angeles. Hornick closed the Kings Road Boutique in 1974, but the American branches continued operating until the late 1970s.


It is safe to say that Granny had one hell of a trip and took many of the worlds young and a hip along for the ride. A trailblazing boutique that is a key part of swinging 1960s fashion history. 


The Madcap England Velvet Breed Jacket in Wine is inspired by 1960s Psycehedlic fashions and the era of Granny Takes A Trip. 

Madcap England Velvet Breed Jacket in Wine Madcap England Velvet Breed Jacket in Wine Close Up