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Bill Gibb
Bill Gibb

Bill Gibb

In the early 1970s unconventionality was the order of the day and Gibb was one of several young designers whose work reflected this trend. He responded to the new predilection for romantic and ethnic clothes, inspired by the folk costumes of Europe or the Near East and displaying, too, a feeling of nostalgia for the dress of an earlier historical age, with his full-length skirts and billowing slashed sleeves. This talent led him through a series of outlets from the personal customer to department stores, from boutiques to newspaper and magazine fashion features, to the opening of his first shop in London's Bond Street in 1975, and was to earn him an international reputation for unique special occasion clothes.

Always an individualist, Gibb was faithful to his own design principles, which relied on the enterprising and ingenious use of textures, weaves, and patterns in fabrics and knitting. Boldly inventive to the point of abandon at times, he mixed and matched materials and colors. His mood was romantic and far out: the effects often larger than life and always unmistakably his own. "I feel," he had said, "rather than dictate. I create a mood." Gibb wanted to create coordinates that gave women choice and pleasure to assemble in the "Gibb style," and with homage to the ethnic feeling of the day, he mixed florals with geometrics, tartans with checks, and produced sunray pleated, beaded and fringed separates, all of which became very popular.

Gibb's output during the 1970s was of such a consistently high standard, it verged on couture. He was probably best known for his evening gowns, fabulous concoctions in floaty and exotic fabrics embellished with appliqués or heavily embroidered nets and lace, silks, brocades, and chiffon panels. In this vein was his 1976 hooded cape, a favorite shape, and voluminous smocks, and kimonos with colored braid trims.

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