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Cigarettes, style and buckets of Brylcreem: Ken Russell's photographs of Teddy Girls

Josie Buchan, 17, photographed by Ken Russell in 1955
Josie Buchan, 17, photographed by Ken Russell in 1955 Credit: TopFoto/Ken Russell

In June 1955, the pioneering photojournalism magazine Picture Post ran a feature called “What’s wrong with Teddy Girls?”. It was accompanied by a remarkable set of photographs of teenage girls from north and east London, dressed in their own dandyish take on the Ted look that was sweeping the country. In jackets with velvet collars, high-necked shirts and slicked-back hair, they posed against striking backdrops in the run-down, bomb-scarred capital.

These carefully observed images were taken by the young Ken Russell, who would go on to become Britain’s most flamboyant, most outrageous film director, with films such as the taboo-breaking Women in Love (1969), the rock opera Tommy (1975), and the still controversial The Devils (1971).

Eighteen-year-old Rose Price, a shop assistant from Tottenham, photographed by Ken Russell Credit: TopFoto/Ken Russell

Russell was 27 when he took these pictures, living in then down-at-heel Notting Hill, west London, working as a freelance photographer, struggling to make ends...

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