Born in Poland, but raised in England, Barbara Hulanicki began her career in Fashion in the early 1960's working as a freelance fashion illustrator covering all the important fashion collections for the major publications of the day, including Women's Wear Daily, British Vogue, the Times, the Observer and the Sunday Times. In 1964 she founded, with her late husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon, the boutique BIBA, beginning as a small mail-order business.
After a few false starts and refusing to give up, their last-ditched attempt was to design and manufacture a pink gingham dress with a round hole in the back with a matching head scarf. It struck a chord with the public and sold thousands of units, allowing them to open a boutique which became an icon of hip 60's and 70's London.
It becames a hangout for artists, film stars and rock musicians, including Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Marianne Faithful among the regulars. The first Biba boutique was a small Chemist's shop in Abingdon Road, but by the time Biba's doors closed in 1976 it had evolved into an elaborate 5-story Art Deco department store with a restaurant and a roof garden overlooking High Street Kensington. The avant-garde BIBA cosmetics brand was being sold in 33 countries across the globe.
Biba finally closed its doors in 1976, a victim of corporate raiding before the term had even entered the business vernacular. Hulanicki continued to work in Fashion, designing for such fashion greats as Fiorucci and Cacharel and for twelve years, from 1980 to 1992, designed a successful line of children's wear, MINIROCK, licensed to the Japanese market.
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