Rare Pics Of The Infamous ’50s London Girl Gang Are Unbelievably Cool
Surprises come in all sizes — some as small as a box full of archived negatives, recounting a female sub-culture in London that was almost forgotten. Meet Ken Russell, who originally wanted to be a ballerina but turned to another kind of art when his father squashed his dream photography. The freelance photographer turned film director soon became known for breaking the rules in his craft, producing some of post-war London’s most expressive work.
Russell’s photographs were largely thought to be lost, but when a box labeled “Ken Russell” was found in the archives of a photo library in 2005, an entire world was unearthed.
Among his most famous work from this period is “The Last of the Teddy Girls” — a series of photos documenting London’s girl gang subculture and their male counterparts. Russell was attracted to these young women for their sense of independence and style—dressing in suits, land army clothes — while rejecting society’s expectations of more traditional, feminine roles. (Teddy kids of either sex were known for fights breaking out wherever they congregated.) The images show Russell’s innate talent for composition and offer a fascinating look into a rarely documented female subculture.