The Height Of Swinging London Was Captured By This Short-Lived Magazine

The Height Of Swinging London Was Captured By This Short-Lived Magazine
The Kray brothers feature in a somewhat hagiographic article. Click to enlarge. All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com  

London in the Swinging Sixties is the stuff of legend, and for one brief moment, there was an achingly hip magazine to capture it in all its groovy glory.

London Life emerged on the scene in October 1965, giving fashion-conscious youngsters and fans of the emerging new celeb culture a glimpse into a world in which Diana Rigg, Mick Jagger and David Hockney partied at the top of the newly opened GPO Tower.

Just 15 months later, though, London Life had folded.

The magazine lasted just 15 months, although it published once a week, each Thursday. All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com  

Now, a coffee table book, London Life: The Magazine of the Swinging Sixties, pulls together deliciously glossy spreads from the publication, which was seen as the cooler successor of Tatler (ironically, of course, Tatler still exists today).

Jean Shrimpton had a column in which she selected her must-haves of the moment. Click to enlarge. All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com  

Model Jean Shrimpton selects the hippest brogues, two-tone Guccis and court shoes to wear; Michael Caine hangs out at the Alfie premiere after party sporting his NHS specs; and Twiggy looks moody inside a Mini.

You half expect Austin Powers to make an appearance somewhere in these pages.

Psychedelic colour schemes reflected an age when The Beatles and Peter Blake were changing the cultural landscape. All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com  

Many photos and artworks are from creatives who went on to become household names, including David Bailey, Gerald Scarfe, Ian Drury and Peter Blake (who created the artwork to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band shortly afterwards).

A feature on GCE-themed play On the Level. Click to enlarge. All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com  

London Life was edited by a young David Puttnam, who went on to produce films including Bugsy Malone and the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire. Not all of the features he signed off haves aged well though: a puff piece on the Krays romanticises the gangland brothers, likening them to a Bogart film and noting that they're 'very down to Earth.' Quite.

You'd hope features like 'The Loveliest Brides of the Week' might be spiked in 2020, too.

All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com

What this does give you though, is an vivacious snapshot of the time; it was publications like London Life which proliferated the concept of such an inimitably cool city — all Carnaby Street poseurs, glossy new skyscrapers and parties you'd give your right arm to attend.

Says Puttnam in the book's foreword: "In its brief lifetime, London Life... set out to embody everything that decade seemed to promise: new social frontiers of every sort, attitudes, fashions, life-styles, artists, even a new class of celebrity."

Click to enlarge. All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com  
Click to enlarge. All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com  

Says the books editor, Simon Wells: "While many books, films and documentaries claim to have captured the phenomenon that was Swinging London, just one magazine was present in the capital during the 1960s to illustrate this extraordinary moment as it unravelled."

Really want to read The Persecution of the London Motorist tbh. All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com  

London Life: The Magazine of the Swinging Sixties is available to buy now from Omnibus Press, RRP, £25.

All images © Illustrated London News/www.maryevans.com  

Last Updated 28 September 2020