Thursday, April 21, 2011


Biba was an iconic London boutique, open from 1964 to 1975. It was the brainchild of designer Barbara Hulanicki and run by she and her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon. It started as a mail-order catalog with affordable prices, making the stylish clothes available to the young middle class. Biba broke into the public eye by offering a lookalike of Brigitte Bardot's pink gingham dress to Daily Mail readers. After that, the Kensington boutique was constantly filled to the brim with young customers.
For good prices, girls could look like their idols Cathy McGowan, Pattie Boyd, or Twiggy. The Biba style became iconic - skinny sleeves, "auntie colors" (mulberries, blueberries, rusts and plums), and a '20s vibe on "fresh little foals with long legs, bright faces and round dolly eyes." The boutique became a staple in the swinging London scene, but never became psychedelic. Instead, second store opened in 1969 with an art nouveau theme. Twiggy became a big Biba patron around this time, her big mascara-d eyes and somber look fitted the brand perfectly. In 1974, the celebrated "Big Biba" opened in a 7-story building which served nearly a million people weekly. The look had changed quite a bit from the early days - the '20s influenced raged on, but now huge pin curls, pantsuits, and long skirts were in. Big Biba had luxuriant decor on a gift shop, salon, food hall, huge cosmetic counter, and Rainbow Restaurant where the rich and famous could hang out. Each floor had a different theme: It was hailed "the most beautiful store in the world." Biba was bought out in 1975 and Barbara Hulanicki was no longer involved with the brand. The golden age of Biba was over, though the store reopened unsuccessfully. The brand has been revived in recent years, currently by House of Fraser. Barbara rebelled this by designing for Top Shop and British supermarket ASDA.

Elizabeth Bjorn Neilson (NOT Pattie Boyd):

 Prudence Farrow:

Twiggy in the Big Biba days: 

Twiggy in the Rainbow Restaurant:


Eva Schaefers said...

Hi, I 'm from Berlin, Germany und stayed 1974/5 in Town. I loved Bibas and I'm glad, I found your blog with these great pics, yours, Eva

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