Chelsea’s fashionable and hip King’s Road begins at the curved facade of the Peter Jones department store, at Sloane Square. The well-known street gained fame in the 1960s, when fashion figures like Vivienne Westwood and Mary Quant could often be seen browsing the eclectic boutiques. But nowadays the 60s are a thing of memory but still London’s Kings road delivery fashionable and quirky styles for even the most adventurous of tastes.
The King’s Road of Today
Today, King’s Road (see on map) remains one of the world’s best shopping streets, with a great number of independent clothing and shoe stores and a good selection of contemporary furnishing shops. Visitors can buy sophisticated men’s clothing at Gieves and Hawkes, browse gold charms at Dodo, get the latest men’s accessories at Boggi, and find contemporary, feminine frocks at Hoss Intropia. More fashion-forward womenswear can be found at the Pinko Boutique, Comptoir des Contonniers, BCBG Max Azria, Whistles and Banana Republic. Other stores include Coccinelle, a premier handbag shop, Space NK, which offers innovative beauty products from across the world, and Cath Kidston, a chic store dedicated to home decor and fabrics.
Kings Road in the 1960s and Notting Hill Carnival
Since 1965, King’s Road has also played host to Europe’s biggest street festival, the Notting Hill Carnival. The annual event, put on by London’s West Indian community, attracts more than one million people each year. The street comes alive with colourful, vibrant costumes, hundreds of food stalls tempting visitors with the tastes and smells of traditional Caribbean dishes and more than 40 sound systems that amplify the music of steel drum bands.
The Music of the Carnival
Music is at the Carnival’s heart, with both contemporary and traditional sounds echoing through the air for miles. Historically, calypso and soca rhythms (listen here) have been most prevalent, but recent years have brought everything from R&B, house, funk, reggae, dubstep (listen here) and more to the streets. Local bands rock live stages, and the eclectic lineup has also included international artists like Jamiroquai and Wyclef Jean in years past.
If music is the heart of the Carnival, food is its backbone. The streets are filled with the intoxicating aromas of Caribbean foods like jerk chicken, rice and peas, fried plantains, curried goat and other exotic cuisines. Visitors can wash their feast down with a shot of strong rum punch, another Caribbean tradition.
The celebratory spirit is evident in the costumes worn by participants. It is not uncommon to see festival-goers outfitted in colourful costumes complete with elaborate masks, layers of feathers, sun-catching sequins and plenty of glitter.
So, whether you decide go to West London for a bit of shopping, or you find yourself in August needing to let yourself go and want to dance the night away to the Island rhythms of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago among others, then Sloane Square it the best starting point for your journey.
For shopping and celebrating, King’s Road can be reached by the Sloane Square tube station, numerous bus lines and via the Imperial Wharf railway station. If you’ve been lucky enough to find one nearby, such as the Lancaster London, you can walk it! The street is also accessible via the river bus services at Chelsea Harbour Pier which means if you are coming up from central London you can enjoy a unique view from the Thames making the day truly unique.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://depositphotos.com/3796888/stock-photo-Porobello-road.html?sqc=1&sqm=440&sq=15ubqt
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://depositphotos.com/9736574/stock-photo-Notting-Hill-Carnival-2010.html?sqc=34&sqm=949&sq=15u95h
- License: Image author owned
Jane Peters is a London-based blogger who regularly chronicles the city’s events. Besides from her love for the city where she grew up, her interests include fashion and live music.