I first discovered Biba whilst attending art college. At the time I was researching the use of Art Deco/Nouveau in fashion. Knowing this, one of my tutors advised me to look into the 1960s/70s fashion superstore Biba whose co-founder and designer Barbara Hulanicki was renowned for creating affordable Art Deco/Nouveau inspired designs for the youth of Britain, defining the transition from the 60s to 70s. With my tutors advise, I began to look into Biba and couldn't help feeling a little embarassed once I discoved how revolutionary they were.
I soon became a major fan of Barbara Hulanicki and her sensational designs so when reading an interview with super-stylist Katie Grand (my joint favourite stylist with Carine Roitfeld) where she identified Barbara Hulanicki's autobiography From A To Biba as a book that "changed her", I knew I had to read the book so ordered a copy as soon as possible. Once I received the book, I devoured it. The book includes Barbara's childhood in Jerusalem and her move to Brighton, England, her winning entry design for a London Evening Standard beachwear competition, her introduction into the world of fashion as a freelance illustrator for Vogue, Tatler and Women's Wear Daily, the establishment of Biba as a small mail order company with her husband Stephen Fitz-Simon, its first store, huge success and expansion into Big Biba and its later downfall.
This book was a fantastic read. It gave me a great idea of swinging London and what it was like to live there at the time. There was a real nostalgia to Barbara's writing and I loved to hear her stories of Biba's celebrity visitors. There was a real glamour to the time and it was fabulous to read about. It's truly inspiring how Barbara and Stephen turned their small mail order company into one of the greatest and most influential stores of all time. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the world of fashion or business.
I hope you enjoyed my review and wish you happy reading!