Saturday, 11 July 2009

Beyond Biba

Mention the word Biba and you can bet that any decent fashionista will go all starry eyed. This is because along with Mary Quant, Diane von Furstenberg and Twiggy, Biba is right up there as one of the iconic fashion brands of the 60s and 70s. Biba is a store which was created by Barbara Hulanicki, a glamorous Pole who ran the famous outlet with her husband. To be frank, Biba changed the face of UK fashion by making clothes that were seen on catwalks around the world accessible to young women. According to Barbara, typical Biba customers were ‘postwar babies who had been deprived of nourishing protein in childhood and grew up into beautiful skinny people: a designer's dream.'

Wikipedia describes the phenomenon of Biba below:

'The shop's main appeal was that an average woman in London could for less than 10% of her weekly earnings share the look of the most glamorous woman in Europe. What could be seen on the catwalks in Paris could now be bought with a Biba twist for much less money. As the Biba logo became more and more recognizable, the more and more people wanted to be seen in it.'

In 1974 the Biba brand was extended into a mail order catalog and new lines for men and children were created along with a food and book range. Sadly the Biba phase came to a demise in the late 70s when punk was all the range and the brand failed to react to the changing trends. However we had not seen the back of Biba and in 2006 the brand was revived under Bella Freud. A new collection made it's debut at London Fashion Week with plans for a new boutique.

As for Barbara well she continued to work in the fashion business and went on to design a line for children that was very successful. She also moved into the interior business working on projects for a variety of famous people such as Ronnie Wood and musich honcho, Chris Blackwell. Barbara has added another string to her bow by designing a wallpaper range for Habitat and Graham and Brown. She is now collaborating with Topshop on a Biba (esq) creation which are doing very well thank you very much. She lives in Miami where she has made a significant contribution to aesthetics by playing a huge part in the regeneration of Miami Beach. With an amazing career like that behind her it is no surprise that a film has been made about Barbara Hulanicki. Beyond Biba is a documentary gives us a rare insight into Barbara the woman; looking at her tragic childhood in Poland, the powerful impact of Biba, the impact her husband had on the brand and her thoughts on modern America.

Beyond Biba is being screened on Friday 17th July at 7pm at the Victoria and Albert Museum. A Q&A with Barbara Hulanicki will take place afterwards.

Check out the Beyond Biba blog here.

Here is a preview of the documentary below.

Beyond Biba Trailer from November Films on Vimeo.

Also check out this interview with Barbara on along with a really cool video.

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