The Forgotten 1950s Girl Gang´s

Meet The Teddy Girls.

These are one of just a few known collections of documented photographs of the first British female youth culture ever to exist. In 1955, freelance photographer Ken Russell was introduced Josie Buchan, a Teddy Girl who introduced him to some of her friends. Russell photographed them and one other group in Notting Hill.

After his photographs were published in a small magazine in 1955, Russell’s photographs remained unseen for over half a century. He became a successful film director in the meantime. In 2005, his archive was rediscovered, and so were the Teddy Girls.

The Forgotten 1950s Girl Gang´s

Despite their overall gentlemanly style of dress (certainly compared to today), the Teddys were a teenage youth culture out to shock their parents’ generation, and quickly became associated with trouble by the media.

Teddy girls were mostly working class teens as well, but considered less interesting by the media who were more concerned with sensationalizing a violent working class youth culture. While Teddy boys were known for hanging around on street corners, looking for trouble, a young working class woman’s role at the time was still focused around the home.

The Forgotten 1950s Girl Gang´s

But even with lower wages than the boys, Teddy girls would still dress up in their own drape jackets, rolled-up jeans, flat shoes, tailored jackets with velvet collars and put their feminine spin on the Teddy style with straw boater hats, brooches, espadrilles and elegant clutch bags. They would go to the cinema in groups and attend dances and concerts with the boys, collect rock’n’roll records and magazines. Together, they essentially cultivated the first market for teenage leisure in Britain.

The Forgotten 1950s Girl Gang´s

While most dedicated Teddys were at worst involved in petty crimes such as bootlegging, there were instances of fascist gangs rioting and using razors and knives to carry out racist attacks. The racist tendencies of the Teddy boy gangs in the end lost to the unstoppable rock’n’roll movement centered around African-American acts. The British pop boom of the 1960s brought new music and new youth cultures.
(Article compiled and cited from MN Chic)

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