Biba was one of those classic high street stores that literally changed the face of UK High Street shops. I've been meaning to do a post about Biba for ages, and I recently saw a documentary about Barbara Hulanicki, who has had such an impressive life. She set up and ran the store with her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon.
The store was iconic in the 1960's and 1970's, in London, had stores around the city. For Fashion Night Out 2010, House of Fraser re-launched the brand, with Daisy Lowe as the face of the Biba.
The brand was very affordable and got it's first major success when it offered readers of the Daily Mail the most gorgeous pink gingham dress. A similar dress had been worn by Brigitte Bardot, and so the dress sold over 4000 pieces the next day.
The first store opened in Abingdon Road, Kensington, in 1964 and was an overnight hit. The appeal was the price. An average London girl could look like all the celebrities for a lot less. The store had really loud music on, that literally reeled girls into the store and the Deco and atmosphere inside was enough to keep them there and keep them coming back. One of Biba's exclusive clients was Twiggy. The sixties style is synonymous with Twiggy and Twiggy absolutely adored Biba, and kept all her clothes from the brand.
Within 10 years, the store had moved into a 6 store building and turned into a department store, that sold everything from clothes, books, food and homeware. The department store was the first one to open since WWII and was one of the most visited places in London.
Biba changed the face of High Street stores forever, turning them into something that we know today. It was the first high street brand to create an image for itself, with it's logo on most products. Biba was also the first store that allowed people to actually try on make up without wearing it first. Biba literally changed the shopping experience, making it more fun and accessible to the average London girl, who didn't earn a lot.
Unfortunately, the brand did suffer a lot of financial difficulties and 75% of it had to be bought by Dorothy Perkins. However, there were lot's of dissagreements between Hulanicki and the Board, about creative control, and she ended up leaving, with Biba shutting down, in 1975.
Although all this was way before my time, I always wished that I was around during Biba's lifetime. The clothes seemed so cool and the brand really was iconic and fun.As you all know, I am in love with all things 1960's, so the Biba brand is definitely something of a dream to me.
So as you can imagine, I was really happy when I realised that House of Fraser was re-launching the brand. It was officially re-launched for this year's Fashion Night Out, last Wednesday.
I wasn't able to catch the re-launch at FNO, but I have had a look at the collection online. I'll be honest: I'm a bit disappointed. The whole essence of Biba was that the clothes were fun and trendy. I was expecting the clothes to be really retro and have a vintage feel to them, but they don't. They're just like normal things that you can pick up at House of Fraser anyway. And the whole point of Biba was to let girls dress like their favourite stars without paying a hefty price: the new Biba line is remarkabley expensive and will really be out of the price range of young girls (especially the jewellery collection!!).
Not to be entirely negative: the collection does have some good pieces:
here and let me know what you think. They're not that bad, they're just not what I was expecting.