Carnaby Street’s first women’s boutique to get commemorative plaque

Carnaby Street
Tourists, young and old, fashionable and not so fashionable, outside the 'Lady Jane' boutique on Carnaby Street, London. Date: 1967

A new commemorative plaque is to be unveiled at 3pm tomorrow, 10 October, at 29 Carnaby Street to celebrate the iconic Lady Jane boutique which opened in 1966.

The shop was opposite the famous Lord John men’s store, when Swinging London was the place to be. Lady Jane was the first women’s boutique to open on the then menswear dominated Carnaby Street, selling mini-dresses, mini-skirts and hot pants to the “hip” set.

Co-owned by Henry Moss and Harry Fox, Lady Jane gave women, and a lot of men too, something to really shout about and, putting live models in the window – changing into different outfits – caused such a stir that traffic literally stopped still as crowds gathered to see the new phenomenon.

Henry Moss, who celebrates his 86th birthday today, 9 October, the day before the new plaque unveiling – which he will be attending – said: “We put a notice in the window saying ‘live model show’. It went off with such a bang that the street was mobbed with people – you couldn’t walk down it. Even the buses on Oxford Street couldn’t get through because of the traffic.

“It made the front page of all the newspapers, and we ended up getting arrested and had to go to court on Great Marlborough Street where I was fined £2 for obstruction of the highway!”

After his arrest, Henry Fox was famously quoted as saying: “The publicity is good for London, good for Carnaby Street and good for Lady Jane.”

The publicity it caused meant people flocked in their droves to Lady Jane on Carnaby Street from all over the world, including famous customers such as blonde bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield, Nancy Sinatra, Mia Farrow, Martha and the Vandellas, Georgie Fame and Robert Mitchum.

Lady Jane sold all women’s clothes, but it also attracted a lot of male customers to buy for their wives and girlfriends, or just to look around. “We even had girls coming in asking if they could just buy a Lady Jane label, and some even wanted to pay us to work at the shop,” adds Moss.

The clothes were all made in small factories around London and once 200 of one item sold out, they moved on to the next. Fashion moved fast, and Moss and Fox seized on it.

The pair went their separate ways in the late 1960s, though Fox continued to own Lady Jane throughout the 1970s, while also opening Lady Jane Again, Lady Jane’s Birdcage and Sir Harry all on Carnaby Street. Fox was president of the Carnaby Street Trading Association and it was his idea to install Carnaby Street’s first sign: “Carnaby Street Welcomes The World.”

Moss went on to open Pussy Galore at number 5-6 Carnaby Street in 1971, as well as Sweet Fanny Adams at 47a Carnaby Street – selling women’s underwear and swimwear.

CouncillorIain Bott, Westminster City Council cabinet member for sports, culture and community says: “Carnaby Street is famous the world over as being at the heart of the Swinging Sixties, so it’s important that we remember the role the Lady Jane boutique played in its history. It is great that original founders Henry Moss and the family of the late Harry Fox can unveil a Westminster green plaque recognising Lady Jane’s unique place in our city’s rich cultural history.”

Simon Quayle, director at landlords Shaftesbury, added: “We are proud to play tribute to this exciting piece of Carnaby heritage. The importance of the fashion and culture revolution that took place here is globally renowned and will be celebrated for years to come.”

During London Fashion Week last month, Mary Quant’s trailblazing boutique, Bazaar, on the King’s Road in Chelsea was also commemorated with a Blue Plaque.

Image: Museum of Youth Culture