This section is devoted to the story of BIBA and its founder Barbara Hulanicki
Happy Birthday Barbara - 8th December 2015 - image courtesy of and © of Getty Images
So chic! - A casual top with pearls and a well-cut skirt and is that a ciogarette I spy? Must be sometime in the 1960s!
Barbara on her Roof Garden with the Flamingoes - (Photo Desmond O'Neill )
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!
Barbara 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!
Barbara in 2016
I've just ordered this book!
Barbara on Fb congratulating the Southend Museums Exhibition showcasing her original fashions
Barbara in 2015
As seen in You.co.uk on 12th April 2015
Barbara in 2014
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
As reported in the Daily Mail
New Venture for Barbara Hulanicki - 2013/4
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.
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.
Fashion archive: The seven storeys of Biba
Barbara and Fitz and their 1973 'Big Biba' Empire - image supplied by Angela Jane Smith
And then closes ...........
The Biba Boutique hosts celebrities in 1970
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
Despite Barbara being honoured and her various associations being highlighted - the return of the Label does not seem to have been a happy experience:
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 : 15th March 2017