When the 1960s were in full flow and Swinging London was the place to be, the eyes of the world were all on Carnaby Street – the place where fashion and music met the hip set.
Renowned as a menswear destination, 1966 saw the iconic Lady Jane boutique open at 29 Carnaby Street. Co-owned by Henry Moss and Harry Fox, Lady Jane gave women, and a lot of men too, something to really shout about.
Putting live models in the window – changing into different outfits – caused such a stir that traffic literally stopped still as crowds gathered to see this new phenomenon. 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 co-owner, Henry Moss, celebrated his 86th birthday on 9 October, the day before the new plaque was unveiled. Sadly his former business partner, Harry Fox, is no longer with us.
Moss says: “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. We did it for three days for an hour at a time, and it made the front page of all the newspapers. I ended up getting arrested and had to go to court on Great Marlborough Street – now called the Courthouse Hotel – where I was fined £2 for obstruction of the highway!”. “It was all women’s clothes, but a lot of men came in to buy for their wives and girlfriends, or just to look around,” says Moss. 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”.
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. Mini-dresses, hot pants and thigh skimming mini-skirts were the order of the day, though Moss admits: “To be honest, we could sell anything. We even had a mini-dress made from a tablecloth which was a big hit.”
Moss and Fox 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 in 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.
Cllr Iain Bott, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Sports, Culture and Community said: “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, Shaftesbury, Director said: “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”.