The Apple Boutique, only lasted eight Months

8 May

The Apple StoreApple Shop just before opening

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The Apple shop was a retail store located in a building on the corner of Baker Street and Paddington Street, Marylebone, London. It opened on 7 December 1967 and closed on 30 July 1968. The shop was one of the first business ventures by The Beatles’ newcomer Apple Corps.

The concept of the shop was that everything in it was for sale. The aim, as described by Paul McCartney, was to create “a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things”. In practice, the stock was overwhelmingly fashion garments and accessories. John Lennon vetoed the use of the word “boutique”, but the venture has come to be popularly called the “Apple Boutique“.

The Apple Boutique windowApple Boutique window

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The launch party on 5 December 1967 was attended by John Lennon and George Harrison with their wives, as well as Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Cilla Black and Kenneth Tynan, who were sipping apple juice as the shop had no alcohol licence.7th December 1967 Jenny Boyd, sister in-law of Beatle George HarrisonJenny Boyd, sister in-law of Beatle George Harrison

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Lennon’s friend Peter Shotton managed the store with Pattie Boyd’s sister Jenny Boyd. The Apple shop was a financial disaster. Theft was endemic. Customers helped themselves to the stock, as did staff members, who had difficulty determining which things people had come in with and which they had picked up in the shop. The ethos of the venture and those operating it was antipathetic to making accusations of shop-lifting or of calling for the police. The Fool’s members also made a habit of taking their choice of the merchandise.

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The Mural

dbc8df8689ab47765619b90ca69b9981The Fool 

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During the 60’s three Dutch designers, Mr. Simon Posthuma, Ms. Josje Leeger, and Ms. Marijke Koger had an initially successful fashion boutique called the Trend in Amsterdam. It was closed due to financial problems. Simon and Marijke wandered around Europe before moving to London where they met Simon Hayes and Barry Finch. Hayes became the business manager while Finch joined the 3 Dutch designers who became known as “The Fool.” Pattie Harrison was familiar with them and even wore some of their designs. How it all started is not clear, but in September 1967 the Beatles gave The Fool 100,000 pounds to design and stock the first outlet of a planned national chain of “Apple” shops. 

Barry Finch employed art students to paint a psychedelic style mural, designed by The Fool, across the building’s facades between 10 and 12 November 1967. The concept was borrowed from the painting of the facades of the Lord John shop in Carnaby Street, albeit executed to a figurative design with greater density and color.

Lord John shopLord John shopThe fool outside the Apple Boutique.The Fool outside the Apple Boutique The Beatles' Apple Boutique (after The Fool's psychedelic murals were painted overThe Apple Boutique after The Fool’s psychedelic murals were painted over

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Westminster City Council had not, however, granted consent for the mural, which could be construed as an advertisement, nor had a licence to do this been sought from the landlord, the Portman Estate. Complaints from local traders resulted in the Council issuing Apple with an enforcement notice to paint over the façade mural. In addition, the Portman Estate were prevailed upon[by whom?] to enforce the terms of the lease.

Apple Boutique Fashion, designed by The Fool

Apple Boutique Fashion

Apple Boutique Fashion

Designed by The Fool, 1960s.

Between 15 and 18 May 1968 the façades were duly painted white with the word “Apple” in cursive script painted on each fascia. This transformation and shift in style from the florid “psychedelia” of the original mural, already anachronistic by the end of 1967, to the minimalism of the “approved” scheme prefigures the contrast in record cover design between that of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band released in June 1967 and that of The Beatles to be released in November 1968.

Inside the Apple Boutique

Apple Boutique

Interior of Apple Boutique, 94 Baker Street, London. Photograph by Peter Mitchell, 1967.

In an interview conducted for The Beatles’ Anthology, George Harrison said of the artwork: “If they’d protected it and the painted wall was there now, they would be saying, ‘Wow, look at this. We’ve got to stop it chipping off.’ But that’s just typical of the narrow minds we were trying to fight against. That’s what the whole Sixties Flower-Power thing was about: ‘Go away, you bunch of boring people.’ The whole government, the police, the public — everybody was so boring, and then suddenly people realized they could have fun. Once we were told we had to get rid of the painting, the whole thing started to lose its appeal”.

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The Failure and Closing

The retail business lost money at an alarming rate, due to (among others) the shop-lifting, eventually running to £200 000 and the shop was closed on 30 July 1968.

Jenny Boyd (bottom) with Beatle wives Pattie Harrison, Cynthia Lennon and Maureen Starr modelling Apple boutique designs, 1968Jenny Boyd (bottom) with Beatle wives Pattie Harrison, Cynthia Lennon and Maureen Starr modelling Apple boutique designs, 1968

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The night before the closing The Beatles, their wives and girlfriends came to take what they wanted. The next morning it was announced that all the remaining stock was to be given away on the basis of one item per person. In his interview on The Beatles’ Anthology george Harrison describes the event: “We ended up giving the contents away. We put an ad in the paper and we filmed people coming in and grabbing everything”. Word spread quickly and the shop was empty within hours. The public, numbering in the hundreds nearly rioted trying to get their share and the police attended.

e328be65134e124098950553becb746aOne item per person were given away

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Marijke Koger & Simon Posthuma 
Jackie magazine
1970Marijke Koger & Simon Posthuma 
Jackie magazine, 
1970

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info:

Wikipedia

http://www.strawberrywalrus.com/applestore.html

http://dandyinaspic.blogspot.nl/2012/11/the-fool-beatles-and-story-of-apple.html

One Response to “The Apple Boutique, only lasted eight Months”

  1. fabrickated 8 May 2016 at 11:45 #

    What a great story. I love the pic of the Beatles wives. I often pass the shop and knew it had been a Beatles boutique, but this filled in all the amazing detail. Thank you.

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