The majority of you reading this post will have heard of BIBA – that magical emporium that reigned on Kensington High Street in the early seventies. Some of you, like myself will have been lucky enough to have been there (some may have even worked there) and if you ever stepped foot in the place, I’m certain the imprint will have remained. Some will have been around at the time and never quite got there, but wanted to kick themselves because they didn’t! And then there are those that were too young or not yet born when Barbara Hulanicki & her husband Fitz, finally closed the doors of the old Derry & Toms building in 1975, & are intrigued yet somewhat confused as to what this BIBA thing was all about!
Barbara Hulanicki, husband Stephen Fitz-Simon & their son Witold
I won’t relay the whole BIBA story here, if you don’t already know then you can quite easily find out, but as you will know there is still a huge interest in the brand fifty years on!
Many of you, might be interested in finding a little piece of ‘BIBA’ for the sake of nostalgia or maybe an investment, as collecting vintage clothing has become a lucrative business. If so, you will have found out that doing a search on eBay for ‘Vintage Biba’ can be stepping into a minefield!
I hope the following information makes a little sense of the turbulent BIBA story, and enlighten you as to what is ‘Vintage’Barbara Hulanicki designed BIBA (What I call ‘Real’BIBA) & what is recent BIBA!
1964 May –BIBA postal boutique opens
1964 September –BIBA opened in Abington Road
This was probably the earliest BIBA label, used for first mail order
1969- 19-21 Kensington Church Street opened
Early embroidered label designed by John McConnell
1970 Biba launched a range of cosmetics and the ‘fat’ Biba lettering was slimmed down for printing on small items, though the celtic logo remained the same. This new look logo was then printed onto garment labels and the woven label and the ‘fat’ Biba lettering was gradually phased out
1971- sold off 75% of the company to Dorothy Perkins
Satin Label gold on black (note the A has changed shape)
1972/73 black on gold
1973-Moved to ‘Big BIBA‘ Derry & Toms art deco department store, here each department was to get its own label,
This label was on knitwear again a change to the lettering
1975- Barbara & Fitz walk out for good, as more & more control of their creation is removed! Biba closes but Dorothy Perkins maintains the cosmetic side of the business and sell the cosmetic brand in it’s stores for several more years.
BARBARA HULANICKI DID NOT DESIGN UNDER THE BIBA LABEL AFTER 1977
Late 70’s early 80’s- Barbara’s sister Biruta relaunches the brand for a short while
80’s ?- Selfridges had a concession
80’s ?- Barbara Hulanicki designs a few ranges for various mail order catalogues
90’s -Monika Zipper relaunches Biba in a shop in Covent Garden
90’s Biba label by Monika Zipper
2006 -Relaunch Bella Freud this launch only lasted 2 seasons, one of the reasons for its demise was the garments were too expensive! The original BIBA brand was always known to be fast affordable fashion, although Bella Freud’s range was in keeping with the BIBA look it was of premium quality fabric thus presenting premium prices substantially higher than High Street!
Bella Freud designs black on gold satin
2009- Barbara Hulanicki designs a range for TOP SHOP under her own name …not BIBA.
This range sold out immediately
2009 -House of Frazer. The most successful relaunch so far!
House of Fraser Biba label
2010 -Barbara Hulanicki designs for George @ Asda under her own name
The original BIBA store 1964
Abington Road (The first Biba store)
BIBA moves to Kensington High Street 1969
BIBA boutique in Kensington Church Street their second location