Barbara Hulanicki - Style icon and founder of Biba
Barbara at work - 15th July 2016 as posted on her Fb page
Barbara & Disney (Villains)
Another original creation for Graham & Brown inspired by Disney Villains!
Barbara Hulanicki Returns To Biba After 39 Years… And We Can’t Wait
It’s official: fashion designer Barbara Hulanicki will be reunited with Biba, the label she created that defined Swinging London in the 1960s.
The 78-year-old tantalised her fans with news of the deal with House of Fraser, who bought the rights to the iconic label in 2009, telling the Sunday Times: 'I’ve got Biba flowing through my veins.' Hulanicki confirmed she will design a special capsule collection for the department store which will hit shops autumn 2015.
The news marks a dramatic u-turn for the Polish-born designer who has criticised House of Fraser in the past for pricing the Biba label too expensively despite being 'more like Woolworths'. In the early 1960s Biba prided itself on both its affordability and accessibility, creating overnight celebrity looks on the high street at a cheap price.Over the years Biba became synonymous with the 1960s look: mini skirts, feather boas and maxi coats were quickly dubbed ‘The Biba Look’ and its legacy is still felt today.What better way to celebrate Barbara’s return than with a few of our favourite Biba looks? Take a look below…
This Biba fashion picture shows a trilby hat in plum felt, an orange and purple striped cotton shirt, a plum wool skirt and a brown leather satchel. We want it all!
Born in Poland, but raised in England, Barbara Hulanicki began her career in Fashion in the early 1960's working as a freelance fashion illustrator covering all the important fashion collections for the major publications of the day, including Women's Wear Daily, British Vogue, the Times, the Observer and the Sunday Times. In 1964 she founded, with her late husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon, the boutique BIBA, beginning as a small mail-order business featured in the fashion columns of newspapers such as the DAILY MIRROR
The Biba success story is worthy of a Hollywood movie: a husband and wife, Barbara Hulanicki and her partner, Stephen Fitz-Simon, go into business together against the advice of those around them. After a few false starts and refusing to give up, their last-ditched attempt -- a pink gingham dress with a round hole in the back and a matching head scarf -- strikes a chord with the public and sells thousands of units, allowing them to open a store which becomes an icon of hip 60's and 70's London.
It becomes a hangout for artists, film stars and rock musicians, including Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Marianne Faithful among the regulars. The first Biba store was a small Chemist's shop in Abingdon Road, but by the time Biba's doors closed in 1976 it had evolved into an elaborate 5-story Art Deco department store with a restaurant and a roof garden overlooking High Street Kensington. The avant-garde BIBA cosmetics brand was being sold in 33 countries across the globe.
Biba finally closed its doors in 1976, a victim of corporate raiding before the term had even entered the business vernacular. Hulanicki continued to work in Fashion, designing for such fashion greats as Fiorucci and Cacharel and for twelve years, from 1980 to 1992, designed a successful line of children's wear, MINIROCK, licensed to the Japanese market.
In 1980, she returned to the UK from living in glamorous Brazil to open a series of clothing boutiques and start a make-up line, all under her own name. From 1980 to 1987, she dabbled in fashion photography for the London Evening Standard and returned briefly to fashion illustration to draw Sarah Ferguson's wedding dress for the London newspapers. In 1983 she wrote her memoirs in the book FROM A TO BIBA, which was published by Hutchinson's.
In 1987 she arrived in Miami Beach where she reinvented herself yet again as a designer of interiors and exteriors, single-handedly re-conceiving Miami Beach's then re-emerging Art Deco District. Her projects began with Woody's on the Beach, which she designed in 1987 for Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones.
She created a series of restaurants, night clubs and super-clubs, including Who's in the Grove, Sempers, Match Club and Bolero Restaurant. From 1992 to 1997 she worked for Gloria and Emilio Estefan designing the interiors for their personal recording studios, the Cardozo Hotel on Ocean Drive, their private home on Star Island, costumes for the music video "Mi Buen Amor", as well as consulting on BONGO, the Estefan's restaurant in Disney World, Orlando, with the Architectonica Group.
From 1990 to 2006, Hulanicki has perhaps had the most impact on Miami Beach through her work for Chris Blackwell and his Island Outpost Group. She twice reconceived the MARLIN Hotel, on Collins Avenue, as well as the CAVALIER Hotel, Ocean Drive, the LESLIE Hotel, Ocean drive, The NETHERLANDS building, Ocean Drive, and the KENT on Collins Avenue. Other Caribbean properties she has designed for Blackwell include the COMPASS POINT Hotel and beach resort in Nassau, Bahamas - which is prominently featured in all the Bahamian Tourist Board television commercials - as well as the PINK SANDS resort on Harbor Island, Bahamas.
In 1993 Hulanicki won an award from the American Institute of Architects for her work on the NETHERLANDS, as well as an award from an association of Florida Architects. Hulanicki's other projects have included private luxury homes on Palm Island and Dilido Island in Miami as well as several commercial properties, including the BEACH HOUSES at CORAL SANDS HOTEL on Harbor Island, Bahamas and hotel development for Chris Blackwell's GOLDENEYE in Oracabessa, Jamaica.
One of the crowning achievements of Hulanicki's impact can be witnessed in the opening of the Hollywood hit movie "The Birdcage". A sweeping helicopter shot flows over the waves to zero in on the primary location for the film, the Cleveland Hotel on Ocean Drive, which is flanked by no less than four Hulanicki-designed buildings - the Leslie, the Cardozo, the Cavalier and the Netherlands.
Additionally, throughout her career, Hulanicki has designed costumes for several stage and film productions, including clothing for Cathy McGowan on the influential live TV rock show "READY STEADY GO" (1964), outfits for Julie Christie in "DARLING" (1965), costumes for local productions in Miami Beach, costumes for old friend and Biba model Twiggy for "CAPTAIN BEAKY" in London's West End and her Royal Command Performance in 1976.
From 2001 to 2002 she worked on the Island life Ministore, located in the heart of Miami Beach on Ocean Drive. Hulanicki renovated this unique shop at owner Chris Blackwell's request. Coined as "tropical lux," this lifestyle store contained a large collection of ethnic gift items, music, film, jewellery and accessories from around the world. It also boasted men's, women's and children's apparel designed by Hulanicki.
In 2003 she delved back into product and fashion design, with a collection of handbags for COCCINELLE, Italy, Wallpapers and Illustrations for Graham and Brown, both of which still retain her to design new collections. Through Graham & Brown, Barbara's wallpaper is now available in the UK at NEXT and in the USA at TARGET and her new Paint Collection will be launched in the UK at '100% Design London', the UK's leading contemporary interiors event connecting the worlds of architecture and design with innovative, contemporary interior products.
She has also designed Wallpaper and textile designs for HABITAT stores in the UK. In 2008 she went back to herroots and designed a fashion collection for TOP SHOP, which included her fashion illustrations used as prints. The Victoria and Albert Museum recently republished her memoirs FROM A TO BIBA and accompanied the book launch with a range of her jewellery and scarf designs.
Subsequently her autobiography inspired November Films, an Independent Film Company, to document her life and career in a recently released feature film called BEYOND BIBA.
Deservedly recognized now as a British fashion icon, Barbara has been bestowed with Honorary Doctorates from the Academic Institutions Heriot -Watt University in Edinburgh and The University of Brighton. Many more Fashion Design Universities are now approaching her to share the simple but unique ingredients she incorporates into all that she designs.
She has become a Patron of the recently formed Fashion Retail Club, endorsing its mission to bring opportunities available in the world of fashion retail closer to Club members who are undergraduates and graduates of fashion design related courses.
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA) inducted her last year (2009) as a Royal Designer for Industry. Constantly breaking new ground Barbara has been invited to exhibit at the Calix Gustav Gallery in the Design District during the Art Basel Fair Miami Beach 2010, the most important art show in the United States.
It is a cultural and social highlight for the Americas. As the sister event of Switzerland's Art Basel, the most prestigious art show worldwide for the past 41 years, exhibition sites are located in the city's beautiful Art Deco and Design District, so familiar to Barbara.
Barbara continues to bring her innovative, unique and distinctive creative flair as a design & retail consultant to a number of US and UK major fashion and home ware retailers, supplying designs exclusive to each company.
Her most recent collaboration is with George at Asda where Barbara has created exclusive illustrations for the T-Shirts going into their Tickled Pink Breast Awareness campaign in September 2010 and following on with exclusive womenswear collections under the brand of 'Barbara Hulanicki for George', the first collection launching in November 2010 and subsequent collections into 2011.
The narrative on this page is replicated from the original Barbara Hulanicki web-site
Collaboration with Asda - 2010
Seamless from Biba by Barbara Hulanicki
Nothing evokes the glamour and energy of the Sixties and Seventies fashion world more than the designs of Barbara Hulanicki and her iconic label, Biba. Her clothes were worn by Twiggy and Bowie as well as countless style-conscious young people who flocked to her Kensington emporium.
But she was also a talented interior designer and rejuvenated areas of Miami and the Bahamas with her strikingly colourful hotels revamps. This gorgeous book showcases her rich and varied career.
Twiggy as a Fairy
Fashion designer Barbara Hulanicki and her son Witold on their special relationship
From fashion parties and fancy-dress parades to lessons in feminism, Barbara Hulanicki and her son Witold have always been close.
Katie Burnetts The Observer, Sunday 2 February 2014
I named Witold after my father, and from a young age he was incredibly strict about how his name should be pronounced. It's "Vee-told!" he'd remonstrate sternly. When I told my mother I was pregnant, she said: "At last!" I was 30, which was regarded as late. Fitz, my late husband, was absolutely crazy about Witold. Whenever I had one of my hormonal eruptions the two of them would say: "We're going out. Let us know when you're better." They were a very close father/son unit. We always had a home near the [Biba] shop so Witold would come in everyday and sit down at a little table next to me, sticking things together. He thought all the assistants in the shop were his actually sisters.
"He's a hippy child, my best friend and I am tremendously proud of him', Barbara Hulanicki and son Witold. Photograph: Barbara Hulanicki"
We waited for him to become difficult, but it never came. When we found out that Fitz had three months to live [Stephen Fitz-Simon died of cancer in 1997], Witold was 29 – and he was so strong. He never cried. The day Fitz died, we were so spent that to cheer ourselves up we watched Absolutely Fabulous the whole afternoon. Two months later, I got cancer in the uterus. I said to Witold: "Now I'm going to go" – he almost dissolved. I knew then I had to get my act together and keep going – for him.
A couple of years ago he married a boy. Now I have two sons and I'm crazy about them both. He came out by sending me a photo of them saying he'd met somebody. I was a bit upset that he had waited so long. But everything has its own time. He's a hippy child, my best friend and I am tremendously proud of him. He's just like Fitz. Very strong. Resilient. Not at all like me.
Witold Fitz-Simon, 46, yoga teacher
Even as a toddler, I knew that the furniture, the colours, the design of our house – was different to other people's. Mum and Dad worked so hard and always on amazing things. On New Year's Eve I would be woken at 11.30pm by my nanny and taken to the Biba store to watch the fancy-dress parade from backstage. I was never excluded.
They were such a strong unit. And when we moved to Brazil, where they knew nobody, it didn't matter because they had each other. Whenever there was a piece on them in the newspapers they'd buy 15 copies for their archives. I thought everyone's mum was famous for something. I'd look at other kids and think – your mum isn't constantly creating things? Mum made me a feminist. I was in awe of how she juggled the work-life balance so expertly. She was empowered and valued by all. When things with Biba fell apart, their world came crashing down. I was seven and couldn't do anything about it. I put my arms round her, but felt it wasn't enough.
Dad died so quickly. But I still had mum, and we continued doing the things we always did together. We even considered pitching a satirical magazine show about the fashion industry.
When I met my husband, it was clear this was an important relationship. I sent her a selfie of us. She giggled which was the best possible response you could hope for. I wish her father hadn't been killed [Hulanicki's father was assassinated by paramilitaries in 1948]. She lost him when she was 12 years old in dreadful circumstances. She's a real inspiration. Creative, uncompromising and has lived a fearless life. I'm so grateful for that.
And now the IconClub
I love the instantly recognisable artwork using my favourite colour wave!
I love this nod (deliberate or not) to the new re-imagined St. Trinians!
Page updated : 7th November 2016