{Nostalgia} A Bit of Biba!

Let me take you to a place, an enchanting place that exists now only in the minds and hearts of those that lived at the time, who were lucky enough to experience it's short life....who can say, 'I was there'....a place that now only lives in the memories and sought after nostalgia of those who wish they had been living at the time....only in existence for a few years in London...known by the name of Biba. To walk inside, you would have thought you were walking into some lavish boudoir of a big movie star, but it was actually a shop....Happy Monday dolls....welcome to Biba!! 

*Note this post is more picture heavy than words, there is so much more you can learn about Biba through books & video available on Amazon. I hope you enjoy it, as Biba is a huge love of mine & I wanted to share it with you all! Have a wonderful Monday!!

xoxoxoxoxoxo


I don’t like modern things. They’re cold.” Barbara Hulanicki!


*History*

BIBA was a clothing label created by Polish designer Barbara Hulanicki and her husband Stephen Fitz-Simon in 1963 in London. What started as a small mail order business, soon turned into a cult brand in 1964, one of her dresses (a pink gingham number in the style of Bridget Bardot) was featured in the Daily Mirror; After that, business boomed. The shop eventually became too small for the masses of customers - who often included celebrities (such as Sonny & Cher, Julie Christie & model Twiggy) and in 1965 a new space was discovered, a former grocery store on Kensington High street (numbers 124-126)



(I'll have more specifically about her in a featured 'Wonder Woman' Post soon!)




*The Decadent Nostalgia Look*

Biba was basically a clothing line for women such as many others, but it became most famous and that churned into mania. Why is that? Because the difference between Biba and other clothing lines was the complete concept: the whole success of this super empire depends on the taste and flair of one person. It was run like small businesses are...with only one person in charge, one person approving everything. Everything was personally chosen and approved by Hulanicki herself, who had a flair for combining retrophilia & decadent nostalgia - which ranged from Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Victoriana and Hollywood glamour. The pointlessly beautiful, the sexiness of it all. Upon entering the BIBA store, was entering a fantasy, another world, going back in time, a place to be separated from real life. The Biba style was characterized by it's Art Deco gilded logo and included maxi coats, feather boas, dusky colours, velvet and satin gowns, Art Nouveau prints, platform shoes and much more, I could go on and on about the BIBA style for a long time!
















*Big Biba*

Anxious to expand their dream, Hulanicki and Fitz-Simon found a much larger vacant building on Kensington High street in 1971, it was formerly known as Derry & Tom's department store. What had begun as a tiny boutique with one dress available - in one size evolved into a fully fledged department store, with thousands of products bearing the official Biba stamp within a decade. Biba had turned into a complete lifestyle.



The new building was like twenty times the size of the current shop and was called Big Biba. Whitmore and Thomas were the designers chosen to work on the new store and to expand the image of Biba. The main idea was Art Nouveau but they added the kitsch touch. The seven-department store was like a theme park devoted to elegantly wasted decadence. This place was not just to be somewhere for people to shop, but a place for people to live. It also included roof gardens that are still there today.













The fabulously Art Deco room dubbed, 'The Rainbow Room', this was where legendary performances were held, the New York Dolls being amongst those performers.


*The End*

The fall and decay of Biba happened for several reasons. First, all of the changes to the managing group and of course the economy in Britain didn't help, but I think it would have happened eventually as sometimes dreams don't last forever & with the changing styles and people, things always go in and out of fashion as quick as one blinks. Big Biba was a huge responsibility in terms of expense and organisation  but Hulanicki and Fitz felt they needed to keep moving forward. And because of this massive undertaking, Hulanicki said, 'Every time I went into the shop, I was afraid it would be for the last time.'' No one was aware of how serious the financial difficulties were going to be & they eventually proved too much for these two. After disagreements with the board over creative control, Hulanicki left the comp[any and shortly afterwards in 1975, Biba closed. There have been several relaunches of the brand over the years, including one in 2006 under designer Bella Freud, which has not been a success. The latest attempts were by British chain House of Fraser in 2009, which has been highly successful, you can view the line on their website

{All the info and pictures are from the books “The Biba experience” by Alwyn Turner and from “Big Biba” by A. Turner and Steven Thomas (one of the Biba designer). Here an interesting interview to Barbara Hulanicki by Vice.}







50 comments

  1. This is really interesting and informative! I am instantly drawn to that amazing picture of the feathers.

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  2. O yes, Biba... I remember them! Thanks for the trip down memory lane :)

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  3. I love Biba's aesthetic. The art deco meets 1970s thing is fabulous. That cat print suit is amazing.

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  4. The shop interior looks amazing and the fashion is instantly recognisable which is fantastic. Unfortunately I think it might have remained successful for longer if it had stayed smaller...? Ah well, what do I know ;-) I do like the BIBA collection at House of Fraser and have a peek whenever I'm there. Great post... Have a lovely start to the week xo

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  5. That is a fabulous post.
    I've never heard about Biba before
    and that made your post more interesting to me.
    Those are really fab outfits
    and the store looks so posh.

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  6. Fabulous post, dear Kizzy.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  7. So interesting!! Some weeks ago I had to write up a presentation about the 70's fashion and Biba was obviously one of the labels I talked about!!
    Love the images of the Big Biba. Decoration was stunning!!
    xoxo
    Patricia

    http://misstoptenimage.blogspot.com

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  8. I love Biba! I'm off to visit the House of Fraser. Hope there's nothing I like! On budget here! Check out Ossie Clark when you get a spare minute. From same era, you'll love his work. My lovely and fashionable friend Bea from Dangerous Liasions blog spot put me on to him. Have a sweet week darling Dolls. Xx

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  9. I didn't know about Biba's story!! Thanks for haring and have a great monday!
    Don't Call Me Fashion Blogger
    Facebook
    Bloglovin'

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  10. Wow!!! this is so interesting, i think you should have your own book. I use to think biba was just a forgotten vintage,i never cared about the brand, i remembered shopping in a vintage shop sometimes last year and i saw Biba on one of the clothing labels, i was like, what brand is this? am not sure if i purchased it, maybe i did, cause i remembered someone trying to convince me to buy.Thanks for sharing, now i can proudly tell the story of Biba to anyone. Yeah! love to enter the competition,Vedette on Facebook & Twitter, i will be following straight away, let me know if i would be linking through your blog.
    Have a beautiful monday babes...
    Kisses

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  11. I have never heard about Biba either. Looks like a really amazing place, imagine going to shop there. I would be more fascinated by the surroundings not being able to focus on the shopping. :) Thanks for sharing this, and happy monday to you too! I wish you a great week!

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  12. Thanks! Her eyes reminds me of one of my favourites - Mina Mazzini!

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  13. great article...and I agree with you. It would have probably happened anyway, trends change and it is hard to keep up.

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  14. Loving the vintage vibe to these pics ... Divine :)

    ❤ StylishByNature.com

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  15. I want to live in that shop!!!! So stunning!

    http://mandycrandell.blogspot.com/

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  16. Love this inspiration - I'm Polish too :)

    XO
    Pearls & Paws

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  17. What an amazing story! Their designs were very luxurious. I think it was a combination of things that did them in. I think they grew a little too fast and took on too much. Also the economic times were not good and not a lot of people could afford all of that. You really have to keep in mind whats going on with the people. Great post!

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  18. i would so rock this stuff now!...especially the striped jumper.

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  19. What a great and interesting story! I didn't know all of this :). I think the fashion in that period was great, really love the materials they used. Great post!

    LOVE BODIL,
    PurePreciousPerfection.com

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  20. Cool vintage clothes...I 'm in love with that last photo, I want all their clothes!

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  21. I love the Biba logo... it's amazing how alot of this styling is back on trend!

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  22. I adore your talent in curating these lovely vintage photos Doll....have a week as awesome as you!!!

    Rebecca
    www.redtagchiclosangeles.com

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  23. well now i know where i want to take my next shopping spree! Wish this place was still around! Kizzy thank you so much for your nice and thoughtful comment on my post! You are such an inspiration to me I hope you know that beautiful lady

    -Nico

    www.SatinandSalt.com

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  24. That's unfortunate that they closed and any relaunches haven't been successful. I feel ridiculously ignorant for not having heard of Biba before, especially because CAT PRINT SUIT! :)
    ♥ laura
    the blog of worldly delights
    the shop of worldly delights

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  25. These clothes are incredible Doll, an awesome throwback to a time where things were just far more vibrant and out there, these ladies weren't afraid to stand out and look good doing it as well!

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  26. Got to love Biba. I am lucky enough to have one of my mum's gorgeous Biba dresses. Really interesting post.
    M x

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  27. Dear Kizzy, thank you for taking me into this enchanted world. I didn't know about the Biba world, it's so fascinating. You really made my day with this fairytale! Lots of love doll!
    Coco et La vie en rose
    Coco et La vie en rose on Bloglovin
    Coco et La vie en rose on Facebook

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  28. Biba seems like it was a fun place. I like the vintage inspired style.

    Oh to Be a Muse
    Shop Layered Muse

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  29. Wow..thanks for the post, I learned about Biba for the first time! So interesting! Hope you are having a wonderful day!
    -Jyoti
    Style Delights Blog
    Enter $30 international giveaway by Chicnova

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  30. Oh I love Biba! Wish we could have seen it in real. I have two books about Biba myself and enjoy looking through them again and again. I was like the happiest girl in the world when I found an original Biba blush in the makeup case of my flatmate and he gave it to me. Have a wonderful day lovely Kizzy. Lots of love, xxxx

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  31. I tried on a few of their dresses when I was looking for a bridesmaid dress a while back. Really beautiful designs.

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  32. Hi Kizzy!!!!!
    This is a fabulous post!!!!!
    I love Biba too!!!!! The photos are amazing!!!!!
    This was truly a magical line!!!!!
    Love & Hugs,
    Shannon

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  33. I remember Biba fondly, but never knew this much about them. Great informative post sweetest Doll, hope you had a lovely weekend with your sweet family,
    Axxx

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  34. Wow, this post about Biba was just amazing! I've never heard of it before which made this even more interesting. :)

    Also thank you for all the latest comments! x I've started to respond under my own posts. :)

    Indie by heart

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  35. OMG! I have to have that cat suit! How awesome is that?!?!
    Really lovely pics, like always! Happy Monday :) xx

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  36. Precious like a beautiful treasure, we can't never be bored of looking at those beauties ! I love this post, and share it right now on my fb page !
    http://selenite.weebly.com

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  37. Very unique! I don't know anything about this! Wow.. feminine mystique:) Love it! Thanks for sharing this information. Have a wonderful Monday!

    xxleslie

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  38. I love the style and design in the clothes. (Hello, cat dress pictured above I love you). You did an amazing job writing this post and sharing so much info about Biba.

    Tracy

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  39. Wish I could have had the chance to experience Biba...The interior of Big Biba is amazing! Could definitely live like that, with lots of Art Deco mirrors around :) Thank you for all your votes on Burlesque Bitch by the way! :) <3 <3 <3

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  40. Love the Biba phenomenon - such a great history and the influence is still so prevalent!

    xo Mary Jo

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  41. Wow this is amazing, I really missed reading your post. I am back blogging again <3

    http://hind-toufga.blogspot.com/

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  42. So cool. Thanks for sharing!
    And I have been well, dear :)

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  43. I love BIBA , it's a faboulos and classy brand. Great pics! ;D

    Kisses,

    Benedetta

    www.daddysneatness.blogspot.com

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