biba2-insideBIBA designer Barbara Hulanicki recently launched a capsule collection with UK high street brand Topshop. Angel Middleton takes a look at a designer still going strong after over 40 years in the fashion business.


The word BIBA has been synonymous with fashion and coveted vintage style ever since its doors opened in 1964. At that time Barbara Hulanicki, a freelance fashion illustrator for prestigious magazines including Vogue and Tatler, and her partner Stephen Fitz-Simon founded a small mail-order business, endeavouring to sell Hulanicki’s designs from the back pages of newspapers.

biba1-logoAfter their one success – a pink gingham dress – sold in its thousands, the couple took a leap of faith and leased an old pharmacy which was to be the site of the birth of BIBA. With girls queuing up outside on opening day in order to try on the same brown dress, it became clear there was definitely something special about this apparently unassuming shop. All of Hulanicki’s designs sold out within the first hour of the new boutique opening and thus began the phenomenon.
 
In 1974 after ten years of escalating success, ‘Big Biba’ was born in a 5 storey London department store. Hulanicki’s vision for the interior of the building, and for the unmistakable logo, was heavily inspired by Art Nouveau, Art Deco and the glamorous Golden Age of Hollywood. With these stylish beginnings it is no wonder that the shop would come to epitomise the look and feel of the swinging Sixties and Seventies London.

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3 Responses

  1. Cass

    Can you give any information on the link between this and the Melbourne hairdressing salon group Biba? There is no mention of this origin of the name on the AU website, and clearly the logo is the same, but none of the names match up in any search, and I’m starting to wonder if the Biba in Australia ripped off the original Biba in the UK? A most perplexing mystery!

    Reply
  2. ruby

    There is absolutely no link between the Biba hair academy and the original Biba.
    Coincidentally though, Regis who headed the Biba Beauty Parlour now lives in Australia

    Reply

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