10 Things I Love // Vintage Biba

Today I wanted to share my greatest source of inspiration for my shop, Red Velvet. It's the British fashion label, Biba (circa 1960s-1970s). I discovered Biba in the past year (thanks Mallory) and fell instantly in love. I love so many things about the biba brand.  First of all, the story is absolutley magical! I ordered this book last spring and have been so inspired by it!

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Biba was trendsetting label. I love these designs by Barbara Hulanicki, creator of Biba. Through the years she's designed so many amazing pieces through her fashion label, but also in the interior design world. She's also an amazing illustrator. She's quickly become one of my heros in design. Here's my favorite wallpaper from her collection…

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One of the first things I was attracted to about Biba was their incredible logo. It's perfect beyond words. 

 

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Oh my… the makeup. I love this look. A lot of the styling for Biba was inspired by the 1930s. So pretty!

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Here's Kate Moss styled as a biba girl. I love this look. The hair, the eyes, the dark dark lipstick. Gorgeous! 

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When I read that Twiggy had modeled for Biba I couldn't help but be a little (tiny bit) jealous. She's such a legand that this made perfect sense! What a great fit. Not only did Twiggy model for the label, she was also a huge fan. I've seen a few interviews where she tells stories about Biba at it's prime and how competitive it was to shop there since things sold out so quickly. Love it! 

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I'm head over heels in love with this photo of the Biba shop girls moving to their new location! The shop had three incarnations, ranging from a small boutique to a seven story department store. Swoon! When I get my time machine, the first place I'm visiting is Big Biba.  

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The coolest thing I've ever seen in photos of the interior of the Biba stores is this giant record player! It's a display for records. So beautiful!! 

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I love the use of pattern in the Biba collections. So many beautiful graphic prints! 

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One of the best things about falling in love with Biba is that now I can search for it everywhere I go. Although the odds are very slim that I'll stumble on a treasure trove of vintage Biba, it's my new obsession and I love a good hunt! XO. Elsie 

  • Oh my goodness! I just got Lucky magazine in the mail… was flipping through and there you are!!! I’ve been following you for a while and am so happy for you! What an awesome year you’ve been having, I hope the run continues. Congrats!

  • Woah, that record display is sweet! Sixties London would definitely be at the top of my time machine itinerary. Thanks for the inspiring pictures!

  • If you haven’t already, you should check out the BBC’s series, ‘British Syle Genuis’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/britishstylegenius/). Biba was among those highlighted and was just part of a fascinating history of the style that is British fashion. I shouldn’t wonder that your local library may have the series on DVD.

    In the meantime, I do love those extra images you found/shared – very cool indeed and I can totally see why you are inspired by them. I think you and J should have one of those jumbo record players in your home/studio, just for the fun of it 😉

    Hugs, xo

  • amazing! i love all the beautiful photos, and i’m dying over the record player display! it would be so cool to re-create that in red velvet and carry vintage and modern indie vinyl! WOW! i’ll keep my eye out for biba in my thrifting excursions, and maybe if i find a special piece i’ll send it your way.;)

  • The thing about Biba and the whole London scene in the 60s is that until then there were no clothes that weren’t either children’s or adults – serious, middle-aged adults at that! These new clothes gave room to move and showed off legs and were so totally radical it is hard to imagine now. The advent of lycra is possibly the only modern trend I can think of that changed the face of fashion in the same way. And like lydcra, mini skirts gave rise to similar unfortunate sights when people slavishly wear the latest fashion regardless of whether it flatters their body type or not!!! I do remember my first boss getting into trouble with the conservative people who ran our business for wearing pants to work – it was a trouser suit (pants and a tunic over it – nothing tucked in or `immodest’)! By the way I am 49 – not 109 as you might imagine from these comments 🙂

  • Wow! This was a fun read! I absolutely agree with you about the logo – it’s perfect. I was just reading on wikipedia about how it was such an integral part of Biba’s marketing plan. And I would have loved to shop in one of those 7 story department stores – does the book describe how the stores looked? Wikipedia describes them as being really cryptic and seductive.

  • I’ve never heard of Biba, but it looks so lovely! The logo and all of the styling is so amazing! I’m feeling so very inspired! Thanks for sharing your love! <3

  • Thanks for the comments!

    Beka, Thanks so much for the link. I’ll totally check that out!

    Laura Kate, I’m actually not as interested in the new Biba lines. Would love something vintage, though!
    I’m more a fan on Barbara Hulanicki and I find it very sad that they’ve carried on the Biba name without her, I guess. I did hear that she designed for Topshop a couple years ago and I’m veryyy sad I missed out on that. 🙂

  • Oh, I don’t think I’d heard about this brand before. Everything looks so cool! I’d love to have that last pink dress!

    Have a colorful week! 😉

    Miki.

  • inspiring, indeed!! Those photos are amazing, and I can definitely see why you are drawn to the brand! I hope you find some vintage Biba in your lifetime! hey, I know… let’s take a RV trip to europe for special thrifting adventures? I’m in.. and we can stop at Orla too. 😉
    xo

  • I’ve actually never heard of biba but just looking at the photos I can see how much it’s influenced recent fashion! I adore it!

  • I LOVE Biba too and have been a fan for many, many years so I was tickled pink to see this post!!! My sister was so lucky – she won a collector’s Biba book from her work. I live between the US and UK right now. ASDA (Wal-Mart equivalent) sells Barbara Hulanicki clothes. I don’t buy my clothes from ASDA when I’m in England but I do enjoy browsing and seeing her name on things. I would love to go back in time and live in London in the 60s. My mother in law owned several Biba dresses in her day.

  • Awesome post! You should check out Lisa Eldridge on YouTube, she recently did a video series using vintage bibs makeup!

  • You’re vey welcome Elsie. I just noticed that the link I left somehow added a ). at the end. If you delete these two characters from the hyperlink (and thusly wrong page) and click return you’ll go where I meant to send you. Sorry for that.

    I’m sure in time TopShop Biba will go vintage and then your luck might be in 😉

  • I love the post we have some great stores here in Chicago ! I will look they have some good stuff ! Should I find I will comment right away 🙂 very informative I love fashion from this era 🙂

  • That’s a very special feeling, when you get to find such a great source of inspiration, it is very magical.
    thanks for sharing.

  • if you like biba make up, then go to youtube and check out lisa eldridge. she’s married to one of the director’s of british vogue and is an outstanding make-up artist (who has a complete set of biba make-up). she’s done some really cool tutorials using biba make-up!

  • Aaaaaw, My mum was a Biba girl. My sister and I have inherited a couple of Biba frocks, as well as some Ozzie Clark/Celia Birtwell ones. Lucky girlies. She used to queue up, when they had a delivery of boots, and people in the street would come and take pictures of her when she was Biba’d up. I named my little Shih Tzu after Biba, is kind of annoying now that there is this Justin Bieber boy, I hope no one thinks she is named after him when I yell her name in the park!

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  • what a gorgeous post, I love Biba! Barbara Hulanicki is Polish, just like me, so I’m very proud that in my country was born such an icon as she 🙂 About 2 years ago she created a lovely collection for topshop, have you seen?
    have a great week Elsie
    xoxo

  • Speaking as a London based Brit with a passion for vintage fashion (check out my Etsy http://goo.gl/Gn57Z) it’s so cool to see you be so passionate about a true classic British label,

    I’ve often found vintage Biba in our thrift stores (or charity shops as we call them) and yes they are the most exciting finds!

    Birdie x

  • It’s great you’ve discovered this…but I think what bothers me is the fact that so many folk of here are vintage lovers and haven’t heard of it…

    Research, people!!!

    It’s like saying “I love punk” and never have heard of Vivienne Westwood or Sid Viscious.

  • Biba seriously was so amazing. For me, finding a vintage Biba dress is the Holy Grail of thrifting shopping. It hasn’t happened yet and I’m not holding my breath!

    I love that cat print…obviously so did Miuccia Prada!

    ♥ Gina Michele
    CrochetClouds.com

  • I love Biba! My mum remembers walking dreamily around the Biba shop when she was a teenager – she couldn’t afford to buy anything but loved to look! Nowadays I do the exact same thing in Liberty 🙂

  • The list of ten things which you love about vintage Biba is really amazing! I cannot even begin to tell you how gloriously exuberant I am today!

  • I love the make up tutorial, might actually try that! Barbara Hulanicki is amazing, she did a collection for Topshop a while ago and I had a dress from it which I sold on ebay, quite regret that now! x

  • I’m in love with the logo (actually I’m in love with everything with an Art Nouveau style). The orange coat may be a good sewing project for this winter… among (so) many others… ahem!

  • Biba is definately swoon worthy!!! im in love with their Art Nouveau style logo and that Art Nouveau wallpaper….i may have to cut my own stencil so i can recreate that wallpaper in my powder room. Create enough buzz and maybe someone will reincarnate that label….how fun would that be!!

  • The new collections from Biba are still pretty. My friend’s sister works for Biba.

  • Biba have always been a big inspiration to me. It’s amazing how one shop had such an influence on fashion, it was one of the first ‘brands’ to be accessible to working class British girls and look at British fashion now!

    I am lucky enough to have a couple of my Mum’s original Biba pieces. Unfortunately they don’t fit me but I will keep them forever.

  • hi elsie, love the blog 🙂 big high 5! when i was at college i discovered this book: “From A to Biba” http://www.amazon.com/Biba-Autobiography-Barbara-Hulanicki/dp/1851775145/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312826789&sr=8-1
    and fell in love with all things Hulanicki! if you are interested in biba and a bit more about Barbara’s personal story this book is brilliant!
    also…didn’t know if you knew, but here in the UK, the Biba brand has been revived via the House of Fraser brand:
    here
    http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/Biba+Chloe+one+shoulder+beaded+maxi+bridal+gown/147154914,default,pd.html?cm_mmc=Googlebase-_-Women-_-Dresses-_-Chloe+one+shoulder+beaded+maxi+bridal+gown&istCompanyId=17910aed-1bae-4362-9580-b523eb87a91e&istItemId=wtatqpiq&istBid=t
    much love and keep up the great work on the blog and e-courses!

  • I LOVE the dress on the left that Twiggy is wearing. Do you know where to find a pattern for a dress like that? I must make one 🙂

  • What a great inspiration! It sort of reminds me of Modcloth – especially the way it was such a competitive place to shop. Thanks for sharing! <3

  • Please read From A to Biba, it’s horribly written but it’s Barbara Hulanicki’s biography. There’s so much more depth to her than just Biba. Which is the namesake from her younger sister.

    I encourage you all to dive deeper, make for more appreciation and relation to our favorite designer’s struggles and successes!

  • Hi Elsie,

    I was pleasantly surprised when I read this post today. Here in the Antipodes – Melbourne, Australia to be exact – Biba is a hair salon. Of course, I had never really thought much about the name. It’s a fairly fashion-forward salon (although I might be biased there, because I have a friend who is a hairdresser for Biba). Even the salon’s logo is the same as the (marvellous) original – I wonder how they’ve managed to get around that copyright??

    It’s wonderful to know the REAL history of Biba, especially since (surprise, surprise) I do love most things vintage. Needless to say, as soon as I finish writing this, I shall be doing more Googling on the proper Biba!

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Your hairstyle posts always give me a little inspiration to have a more interesting hairdo than just the stock-standard ponytale. Oh, and when I come to the US (soon hopefully!), I think a visit to Red Velvet is DEFINITELY in order!

  • I am sure you have but if you haven’t, do read Barbara Hulanicki’s biography. One of the best and most inspiring books I have ever read, to listen how she made it over here from Poland and went about setting up Biba is an inspiration. Also if you have time, check out the second issue of our magazine called Betty Magazine, which has an interview and rare photos of a lady called Wendy who used to work in Biba. A wonderful lady! The link to read the magazine is here: http://blog.bettymagazine.co.uk/p/firsts-issue.html (it is at the back of the magazine). I hope you like it, this was a great blog post! xxx

  • My mum loved Biba, she still has a Biba jacket in her wardrobe. It’s too small for me though, it’s pretty tiny! It’s a shame about the new Biba stuff, it’s mostly awful.

  • You may like to know if you didn’t already that the Biba brand reappeared last year in Britian at House of Fraser with modern designs trying to stick to the original athstetic. – so you could maybe get your hands on something!

    The Biba logo is fab, I have a dress that I got in a Dorothy Perkins sale which I love because of the Biba-like pattern on it.

    Would love for you to stop by and say hello at..

    http://www.katiescreative.blogspot.com

  • I love Biba too! I studied her and Mary Quant for my fashion A-Level and I really got carried away with the prints! Biba has made a bit of a come back here in the UK, I’m hoping this is the start of something big! I also visited the Mary Quant shop in London last year but it was closed down boo hoo hoooo!!!

    Here are some links if you’d like to purchase some goodies!

    http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/Biba/BRAND_BIBA,default,sc.html?fromBrand=Biba&cm_mmc=google-_-Biba-_-Biba%20-%20HVK%20-%20U-_-biba&gclid=COWQqaHH06oCFUMf4QodjFaH0g

    http://direct.asda.com/george/women-s-clothing/barbara-hulanicki-collection/01371,default,sc.html

    Katie xo

  • I can remember visiting the Biba store as a young child with my mother in the Early 70s. It obviously had quite an impact on me as I have very few memories from that far back. It felt like a magical place – I can remember sitting on a toadstool (stool) that had little pixies living inside!

  • last year I did a post with some scans (well, photos) from a limited edition hand illustrated book on biba – it’s amazing! the link is here http://www.bell-street.com/2010/05/in-biba.html

    I have a bag from the barbara hulanicki for topshop range, it’s got one of her illustrations of a Biba girl on it. have you read her autobiography? It’s good.

  • As a Child of the 60s in the UK, us girls used to wait with baited breath for the new Biba catalogue to arrive in the mail. It was printed on rough paper with sepia photographs and was as stylish as the garments depicted. The other UK fashion icons of that era were Mary Quant and Ossie Clark

  • I was lucky enough to visit the Biba department store. I was 10 but remember it so well. My teenage sister purchased Mary Quant make up, a silver velvet bomber jacket, blue lurex stockings, a candle shaped like a hotdog,striped toe socks and an amazing Biba colouring book. I remember the toy department. It was all 1920’s 0nly wooden toys. The furniture department was amazing… velvet,leopard skins, deco mirrors and ostrich feathers. Unforgettable experience.

  • My daughter sent me this link because she knows of my love for Biba. I lived in England in 1971 and, for my 15th birthday, my mother took me to Biba and bought me a pair of fabulous eggplant colored suede, slightly over-the-knee high boots. They were my pride and joy for years. I remember the store – all black and gold and funky. The Biba poster I bought there is framed and still hangs in my bedroom. Hulanicki was an amazingly talented and inspiring woman; she really set the world of fashion on fire. Thanks for the lovely tribute!

  • My daughter sent me this link because she knows of my love for Biba. I was living in England in 1971 and, for my 15th birthday, my mother took me to Biba and bought me my first Biba boots – suede, eggplant colored, slightly over the knee – they were fabulous and I adored them. I still remember the store – all gold and black and funky. The Biba poster that I bought that day is framed and hanging in my bedroom still. Biba was a powerful influence on my style sense at that time. Hulanicki was the Chanel of her time; she created an entire new vision of fashion that remains timeless. Thanks for this wonderful tribute!

  • I have a really gorgeous vintage Biba dress that I brought in London, it was used in one of the runway shows. Ill take a photo and post

  • Thank you so much for sharing vintage Biba. I was 16 when Biba became popular in London and i was an addict for their looks especially the dresses with geometric block colours. The store was a place of wonderful curiosities waiting to be discovered and i can remember the dark and interesting interior where i spent hours trying on the fabulous outfits. The accessories were to die for with the horizontal stripe tights and cloche shaped hats in maroon……
    Please come back Vintage Biba – not the new one! The 60’s Biba was such an important name which shaped London’s fashion outlook that you could see a vast number of young girls influenced by the Biba look.

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  • I was lucky enough to work at the Big Biba in 1974. I was on the stationery counter. Amazing store but they just went too big too soon. It epitomises the 60s and 70s for me. Never looks dated. Thanks for the memores Biba xxx