Barbara Hulanicki

In the film (commissioned by Visit Brighton) Barbara returns to Brighton, where she studied fashion illustration in the 1950s, to talk about those early days, the Biba years and fashion in 2012. We are absolutely thrilled to see Ms Hulanicki in the news once more. She is one of my many fabulous artist heroines...She definitely kicked in doors for women business women/fashion designers for all time.... xK

With its cutting edge yet affordable fashion, Barbara Hulanicki’s iconic Biba store and label transformed the High Street shopping experience in the 1960s and 70s. Young working women shopped alongside models and celebrities, including Sonny and Cher, Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger, Princess Anne, Mia Farrow, Twiggy and Brigitte Bardot. Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Victoriana and Hollywood glamour were all combined to create striking, romantic and sensual designs.

Following an early success with her fashion designs for mail order, Barbara Hulanicki and her husband Fitz created and established the Biba brand. From Biba’s Postal Boutique to the shops on Abingdon Road, Church Street and, Kensington High Street, to the final, glamorous, six storey Big Biba in the former Derry & Toms Art Deco department store, Biba’s phenomenal success changed the face of UK fashion.

What linked all the Biba stores was Hulanicki’s skill in creating environments that complemented the appeal of her clothing. The atmosphere was unique, with loud music, stylish staff, dimly lit period interiors and chaotic changing rooms.

Photograph © Ron Falloon

This major exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery celebrates the Biba lifestyle and also looks beyond Biba at Barbara Hulanicki’s other successful careers in fashion illustration and design, interior design, architecture and fashion which are flourishing under her creative genius today.

The story of Barbara Hulanicki and Biba forms two thirds of the exhibition. The final third focuses on her career from the late 1970s to the present day.

Photographs Tessa Hallmann © Royal Pavilion & Museums

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