I don’t think I need to particularly detail my love for Biba, as I’ve mentioned it so many times before. To me it’s the best label ever. End of. Which is why the new exhibition Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki at the Brighton Museum is simply amazing. Packed full of Biba memorabilia and fashion as well as some of Barbara’s later designs, this is an excellent round up of the work of one of the world’s best designers, but also an incredible visual feast of fantastic Sixties and Seventies fashion.
Going back to the very beginning of her career – when a teenage Barbara won a swimsuit design contest – the exhibition details the rise of Biba from a small mail order business to a giant Art Deco department store in Kensington. The pieces on display are simply stunning and show off Biba’s radical look to perfection.
Many pieces are also accompanied by little stories and personal notes of their owners, I loved the two-piece suit one lady chose to wear to her wedding (pictured).
I had my own little fan girl moment too, when Barbara took some time to chat to us. She was utterly lovely. Sigh. Biba forever!
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I absolutely love this video tutorial by the brilliant Lisa Eldridge. She is using unopened, original Biba products to create this amazing deco inspired look.
I’m currently reading a book about Biba (review to follow soon) which has some detailed images of Biba clothes – phwoar! I basically want the lot, which is frankly impossible.
But I am thinking about having some remade and my number one choice at the moment is this fab red wool dress with art deco buttons and belt.
I’m going to a wedding in early March for which I’ll be wearing a fab vintage hat the Doc got me for Christmas, and this dress would go so well, especially as I’d have the skirt slightly longer to just below the knee. Decisions, decisions…
One of the aspects of late Sixties, early Seventies fashion I love the most is the Art Deco revival. No one did it better than Biba, with their flagship store fully embracing Thirties shapes, Egyptian influences and streamlined designs.Not to mention the fashion: sharp tailoring, cloche hats, Thirties-inspired shoulder pads and geometric prints were all integral to the look.
I really wish I could fit into this Sixties/Seventies maxi skirt with its fab ‘crying lady’ pattern on Etsy.
And how fab is this Sixties peacock bag on eBay?
But the piece de resistance is this amazing Thirties-inspired Biba coat. Again on eBay.
1. 50s embroidered blouse, Etsy, £36
2. Victorian blouse, 1860-1960, $100
3. Peter Pan collar blouse, Asos, £35
4. Cream blouse, Rokit, £22
5. Daisy applique blouse, Topshop, £38
6. Silk blouse, Biba at House of Fraser, £125
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Biba shop interiors. The store was furnished in a perfect mix of art deco and late Sixties design full of dark wood, peacock feathers, furs, Egyptian-inspired doorways, giant tin cans and faux-leopard print textiles. What a shame to think what has happened to the brand now – flogging Swarovsky crystal-encrousted skinny jeans at House of Fraser…
I’m a huge fan of Biba and love what the brand embodied in the Sixties and Seventies – offering fashionable yet affordable clothes, glamour for the masses. Now three decades later and in a very different world of fashion retail, Biba is relaunching with a new collection exclusive to House of Fraser (available from 9 September).
Sadly, to me their collection is a huge failure. Rather than revisiting the brand’s heritage and rich history of prints and designs, they have come up with a WAG-tastic, cheap-looking range of crystal-embroidered jeans and animal print dresses that are neither fashionable nor worth the £50 – £400 they retail at.
It seems that if you do want to have a piece of iconic Biba design, vintage is still the only way to go.
Buire designer for highstreet collaborations that don’t interest me and then there are those that do. I am rather quite excited about Biba’s Barbara Hulanicki designing a capsule collection for Topshop. The collection launches next Tuesday, 28 April.
… all of this, please?
bow bracelet: Muse
cropped jacket: Paul and Joe Sister