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OBE

A to Biba pb

Using Biba Japanese

Disgrace paperback

Japanese A to Biba

Disgrave hback

Looking In

BH in Shop

Twiggy in the Rainbow Room

Catalogue pose 1968

Magazine Cover

Twiggy as Egyptian Muse

Barbara Hulanicki

Biba Trouser Suit

Cilla Black dressed by BH for London Palladium 1964

Cilla 5th Beatle

Biba Illustrations

Paris Match Modelling shoot

Hulanicki Bag for Coco

The Marlin Logo

Marlin Hotel Chisel & Mouse style

 

This section is devoted to the story of BIBA and its founder Barbara Hulanicki

BH Illustrated by Claire Huntley

Barbara by © Claire Huntley à la Warhol - November 2017

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B\rbara Hulanicki

Happy Birthday Barbara - 8th December 2015 - image courtesy of and © of Getty Images

Barbars Kensington Hight Street

So chic! - A casual top with pearls and a well-cut skirt and is that a cigarette I spy? Must be sometime in the 1960s!

BH on Roof Garden

Barbara on her Roof Garden with the Flamingoes - (Photo Desmond O'Neill )

Twiggy

Agneta

Many thanks to Vic and Bertie Vintage for providing the image and narrative

Known for the distinctive 'look' Biba embodies this instantly recognisable picture features "Finnish model, "Mouche" (Agneta Bylander) photographed in Biba by James Wedge, 1973. She was chosen by Barbara to be the face/body of Biba around 1973. Mouche also modelled again for and in Biba for John Bishop and the images were published in "19" magazine in 1973 when one of the Biba manageresses moved over to the magazine after working for the store."

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I've been a BIBA fan since the late 1960s and was introduced to this magic kingdom (or in reality should that be 'queendom'?) by my college friend, Caroline. Caroline has an elder sister who at the time was seeking fame and fortune in London and used to send the (now coveted) Biba catalogues to her younger sister. We spent hours pouring over these artistic wonders - we were both very artistic and idealistic and studying art at college. Although we went our separate ways - Caroline to Bourneville College and me to Lancaster College of Art we kept in touch and in 1973 removed ourselves to London and the Lifestyle! But enough about us - this is all about Biba!

From A to Biba biogBarbara has written her own biography so I don't intend to try to re-write or improve on anything on this page as the best source is the book itself and needless to say I am the proud owner of a genuine first edition bought at the time of publishing. Recently the book has been re-issued as a paperback with a quite unsatisfactory and bland gold cover with a black illustration based on an image of Barbara.

Barbara also wrote a novel, which I didn't find out about until I discovered the joys of car boot sales thanks to my husband Andrew who introduced me to them. I was quite astonished to find something purporting to be written by Barbara Hulanicki as I had never heard of this venture! The novel is called 'Disgrace' and Barbara adds, perhaps a little misguidedly, author to her illustrious design talents. She may have based the novel on people she knew but she can't really have had much input into the cover design of 'Disgrace' which is pretty bland although the more I look at the picture staring back at me now, the more I see the face of a popular tennis player emerging ...... It is also a particularly bad piece of vintage writing (no 'Valley of the Dolls' which it tries to emulate, I think) and I say that with feeling as I do read a lot and have a diverse taste in literature, so it hurts me to offer a criticism of any sort. One huge thing in favour of this book is that I did read it from beginning to end! I'm not sure if it was from slavish devotion to Barbara and all things Barbara or whether I was curious to see how it would conclude (don't look for a Happy Ever After scenario here). In fact I have only ever, once, not completed a book in all the years that I have enjoyed, and I do mean enjoyed reading! To spare the author's feelings I shall not name it on this page or even my books review page!

A magical Display at Big Biba

Magical Biba - patterned carpets, mirrored display stands - divinely decadent all of it!

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Barbara in 2018 - Speaking out!

Why (like all of the Swinging Sixties generation) I REFUSE to retire, by the woman who founded Biba – and is launching a new collection, aged 81

- Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki, OBE,  revealed she plans not to retire
- She shared with Liz Hoggard the inspiration behind the Swinging Sixties   
- Barbara recalls rations during 1948 as a reason why people were skinny
- She shares how her store became a hangout for Twiggy and the Rolling Stones

Daily Mail dated 12th March 2018

Barbara Hulanicki, OBE, the woman who invented Biba, the fashion store that set London alight in the Swinging Sixties (and became a hangout for Twiggy, the Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull), is telling me why her generation grew up to change the world. 'London was so grey in the late Fifties. Young people now don't realise there was no food. If you went to a restaurant you ate spaghetti with tomato sauce out of a Heinz tin. It was awful. No one travelled, so no one knew about food.' Life was in black and white, not colour. Pubs were only open for a couple of hours a day. There were no concerts or gigs. And don't get her started on the shops.

'The clothes were terrible. There were no shoes, no make-up. I was earning money and there was nothing to buy. I used to go up and down the streets trying to find anything that Audrey Hepburn wore in the 1953 film Sabrina. I wanted her earrings — even one would have been enough,' she sighs.

Hulanicki not ready to retire yet

Barbara Hulanicki, OBE, (pictured) shared the inspiration behind her brand Biba and why she will never retire - image courtesy & copyright of Richard Baker/Rex/Shutterstock as used in the Daily Mail article

Nothing was designed for teenagers. So clearly the landscape was ripe for an explosion of young people with disposable incomes choosing their own clothes.

If I could see me now!

Barbara Hulanicki: 'None of my friends believed me about the concentration camps'

We asked the fashion and interior designer, 81, what her younger self would make of her today...

My childhood was an amazing, happy time – until I was 12, when the drama started.

I was born in Warsaw but my sisters and I were brought up in Palestine during the British mandate era. There were no shops, there were no toys, and there were definitely no dolls. Everything had to be made. We spent all our time drawing and making clothes.

We had Polish schools, which my father [Witold Hulanicki, a former Polish diplomat] helped organise. I would feel guilty as we were with all these children who had been in the Russian gulags. Children are so funny; although they went through terrible times, they were just amazing at bouncing back. It was the parents who were very sad.

My parents were so happy together; it was really lovely to see. Mum was amazingly stylish. She would look so beautiful next to the other mums at the Polish church that I felt embarrassed.

In the evenings my father would be in his dark office listening to the BBC Polish radio service about all the latest news from Poland. It was still before the people came in to Palestine from the concentration camps. My father said: “There’s going to be so much trouble here, you’ve no idea.”

Then, overnight, our family life crashed. Early one morning, in February 1948, there was a banging on the door and men took my father from our house. We waited for him for two days and two nights with no news at all. And then of course we found out [he had been murdered by the Zionist paramilitary Lehi organisation, who were fighting to rid Palestine of the British]. After we had the terrible news my sister was sent away because my mother was always weeping – she was only 34 and my father’s death hit her hard. I responded by going inside myself. The British were amazing. We were in a dangerous situation and had to keep moving to a safe place. 

Hulanicki and Guitar

Barbara Hulanicki spent her early childhood in Palestine Credit: WireImage as used in Daily Telegraph article

In the end, my mother’s older sister in England came to the rescue and took us in. Suddenly I was thrown into this old-fashioned, glamorous lady’s life of diamonds, pearls and crepe dresses. My aunt sent us to a boarding school near Worthing. I used to tell my friends about the concentration camps and they thought I was completely batty. They just couldn’t believe it. My name was bad enough; I wished I had a name like Smith or Jones.

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Barbara in 2017

Rediscovering her roots

Barbara Hulanicki interviewed at the Viva Studios in Poland

Great aunt Hulanicka by Gronowski

Barbara mentions a distant auntie who danced in the Isadora Duncan style in her new book - this poster by the 'Father of Graphic Art in Poland' Tadeusz Lucjan Gronowski looks to be paying an incredible tribute to her - image sourced from pigasus-gallery.de

Barbara Hulanicki interviewed in Poland

It's important for me to re-connect with my Polish roots says Barbara - watch the video here

Barbara Hulanicki: "Polacy potrafią stworzyć coś z niczego"

Barbara on P{olish TV

Interviewed on Polish TV on Sunday, 7th May 2017 in Warszawa

"Urodziła się w Warszawie, dzieciństwo spędziła w Jerozolimie, by ostatecznie, w wieku 12 lat, po śmierci ojca, przenieść się do Brighton w Wielkiej Brytanii. W latach 60. stworzyła kultowy dom mody "Biba", który jako pierwsza "sieciówka", swoimi projektami podbił wkrótce angielskie ulice. W londyńskiej Bibie bywali i ubierali się Twiggy, Rolling Stonesi, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury czy Brigitte Bardot. Na kanapach Dzień Dobry TVN gościliśmy modową rewolucjonistkę - Barbarę Hulanicki." (TV introduction)

"Barbara Hulanicki. Ważne jest tylko jutro" Judyta Fibiger

Barbara Hulanicki 2017 Biog

Books on Show at the Warsaw Book Fair

Image courtesy of the Warszawskie Targi Książki / Warsaw Book Fair

Barbara signing her book

Image courtesy of Barbara Hulanicki and the 'Wazne jest tylko Jutro' Fb page

Promotional weird picture of Barbara Hulanicki

Barbara promoting her book in an innovative and original way in June 2017

Hulanicki with author Judyta Fibiger

Hulanicki with author Judyta Fibiger

And with author Judyta Fibiger - images courtesy & © of Aldona Kaczmarczyk

Hulanicki Biography 2017

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Barbara in 2016

Launches new handbags with House of Coco

Hulanicki in Coco article

House of Coco Hulanicki collection

The Hulanicki collection for the House of Coco

BH in workshop

Barbara looking cool in her Iconclub Ministore Black Matte Butterfly Top - image courtesy and © of Barbara Hulanicki

Book of Illustrations

I've just ordered this book!

Brighton exhibition

Barbara on Fb congratulating the Southend Museums Exhibition showcasing her original fashions

Biba article in Saga Magazine

Maybe more 'Swinging 70s' but what's in a decade? Read the on-line interview here and more about my personal involvement here

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Barbara in 2015

Portrait of BH for article

Barbara Hulanicki article Link to source page

As seen in You.co.uk on 12th April 2015

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Barbara in 2014

Barbara, Twiggy and Nicky Butler

Barbara Hulanicki and Twiggy attend 'Nicky Butler' Egyptian / Celtic Style Jewellery collection launch party at the British Museum - image provided by The Resident

New Book 2014

The Biba Years Book Cover

As reported in the Daily Mail

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New Venture for Barbara Hulanicki - 2013/4

Barbara Hulanicki portrait 2014

Barbara in her favourite Iconclub Ministore tee shirt. - Photo courtesy of Barbara Hulanicki and Iconclub

2014 - Desert Island Discs

Barbara featuring in Desert Island Discs which was originally broadcast on 8th December 2013

Barbara featuring in Desert Island Discs which was originally broadcast on 8th December 2013

Barbara featuring in Desert Island Discs which was originally broadcast on 8th December 2013

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2013 - Barbara & her plants

Good Housekeeping Interivew from 2013Good Housekeeping Interivew from 2013

From Good Housekeeping dated July 2013

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Biba founder and Lulu Kennedy make New Year’s Honours List 2012 a fashionable one

For more information please visit the New Years Honours page - thank you.

Biba Goth Honours

Barbara Hulanicki, whose iconic Biba store in Kensington contributed to the London landscape of the Swinging Sixties, has been made OBE for services to fashion. The Polish-born fashion designer has recently collaborated with ASDA supermarket's clothing range George, and enjoyed sell-out success with a collection created for Topshop in 2009.

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Fashion archive: The seven storeys of Biba

11 September 1973: Fashion store Biba reopens for business in the seven-floor Derry and Toms building on Kensington High Street, London

Barbara and Fitz Big Biba

Barbara and Fitz and their 1973 'Big Biba' Empire - image supplied by Angela Jane Smith

And then closes ...........

Goodbye Biba

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The Biba Boutique hosts celebrities in 1970

Biba Boutique hosts Tom Courtenay

I couldn't resist adding this photo of Tom Courtenay who for a long time remained my favourite actor (usurped only by Alan Rickman after I saw him in the 'Barchester Chronicles') - image © Getty Images

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Despite Barbara being honoured and her various associations being highlighted - the return of the Label does not seem to have been a happy experience:

 

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References: thanks to Barbara's web-site for the images of the Japanese books featured on this page

BIBA Swinging London 1965-1974 by Hitoshi Nagasaw:
This book is the one decade history of fashion and street culture in London . The story begins with BIBA and then back to Modernism, such as acid/psychedelic culture and also the anti-modern designers who lead the beginning of 70's fashion.
Goro Yamada said "acid/psychederic movement revived anti-modernism such as Art Nouveau, Secession, Symbolism, the Celt pattern, the boom of India and Arabesque" Also the aesthetic culture history.

Page updated : 12th March 2018 (G)