- M. B. Whitaker
British fashion boutique. Established in 1963 by fashion illustrator Barbara Hulanicki (b 1936) as a mail-order catalogue, Biba swiftly evolved into a popular London boutique, and finally, from 1973 to 1975, a short-lived department store. Biba offered eclectic and affordable clothing, accessories, cosmetics and other products to students and teenagers, consequently becoming a fundamental driving force behind street fashion during the 1960s and 1970s (see fig.).
Barbara Hulanicki, born in Warsaw, worked as a fashion illustrator in London for a variety of magazines in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This introduced her to the privileged and dictatorial world of haute couture, which turned her away from high fashion. With the encouragement of her husband, Steven Fitz-Simon, she began designing and started the Biba Postal Boutique in 1963. This mail-order catalogue, named after her sister, was a quick success. Her most popular design for the catalogue was a gingham frock and kerchief that later became a staple of the Biba shop (...