At the start of the whole Carnaby Street fashion era, there was one great fashion brand, Biba. It’s back.
Biba was founded in 1964 by Barbara Hulanicki and her late husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon. It epitomized the era, with 1920s and 30s looking models in maxi and mini dresses and coats, in the look that shaped Austin Powers. With crochet knit caps and A-line mini dresses, it all had antique feel, down to the Biba logo, with its Art Deco type font.
Good news: The Biba brand is back, with a website by Wonton & Montgomery. Intersplicing archival photos, it offers not only the clothing (worn by models Simon Doonan refers to as dolly birds), but a patchouli-like fragrance and licensed “baby doll” big glasses. Designer Freud’s Kensington Girl coat will be insta-classic icon. And they didn’t match the website with 60s or 30s music. It uses Brian Ferry whose “Loving You is all I can DOOOO” runs in the background.
The London shop closed in 1975 and Hulanicki moved to Miami in the late 1980s, taking her sensibilities and applying them to hotels for clients like Chris Blackwell, of Island Records. It was a perfect match, with an underappreciated Art Deco district in search of new inspiration. Since then she has run a Miami interior design business concentrating on hotels and resorts called Barbara Hulanicki Design.
One of the great talents who never really gets the credit she deserves is Barbara Hulanicki, who started Biba. She’s the most amazing woman, designing hotels in Miami, still looking fabulous. Biba had a huge influence on me. When I was 14 I had a Saturday job in Queensway at the hairdressers’ where my sister worked. …My first Biba dress was yellow with pink zigzags, puffed sleeves and three pearl buttons.