From Barbara’s autobiography: “I had told the bank manager that Biba would one day be like Harrods.”
“One afternoon in 1969, I noticed a tree on the roof of the Derry & Tom’s building and realised it was a roof garden.” Then on a sunny afternoon, Barbara went into the building and up with her son in the rickety elevator. It opened up to another world full of the most well kept gardens featuring bridges, a stream, flamingos… she told Fitz ‘one day we must have this place.’
And they did, it was to become Big Biba, but not for another 2 years!
That didn’t stop Barbara from collecting furniture, carpets, curtains as well as designs, interior artists and dreaming up her ideal store in that time!!
Luck had it that they heard that the wonderful building was to be sold and Fitz worked his magic to secure it for their next Biba location. They had 18 months before they were to move in officially!
Barbara had started taking her own photo's for Biba catalogues and Press at this time which can be seen here!
Sad news came while the preparations for Big Biba were well and truly underway in 1972, Barbara and Fitz learned sadly that their original investors (Dorothy Perkins) had sold to a property developer (British Land) and were leaving the company altogether after 5 happy years. They would be passing all control of the Biba board to 2 accountants, a personal manager and an advertising agency professional. Barbara and Fitz knew that from then on, they would have to fight and struggle to continue the Biba vision.
Despite it all, they still ploughed ahead with the move and uncovered beautiful Art Deco walls, beams and ceilings that had been covered up at their new location.. what a dream!
During this time, at the High St Kensington store, a group of Biba-girls started up their own Union, which was to become a power of strength to Biba in the new larger store.
Biba was only getting bigger and bigger, worn by everyone across Britain, Europe and some lucky one's in USA!
Below we've gathered a number of images of famous people & beautiful babes from the 60's and 70's wearing Biba.
They became very famous for their t-shirt - a concept which was very novel at the time and they produced in over 50 colours!! Below you'll find one on George Harrison, Ozzy Osbourne, Syd Barrett and more!
Next on our Biba Blog Series, it’s time for Big Biba!! The magical wonderland that dreams are made of!
Inspired by the deep hues and somber colours of Barbara's Aunty, who was a beauty and devotee to the 1920's & 30's style!
"Thank you Aunt Sophie for inspiring Biba. I did not appreciate it when I was in my teens, but it was all Aunties influence." Barbara Hulanicki, 2017.
Check out our collection of flares by Barbara Hulanicki on our site here:
And of course, our matching Playlist spanning the top hits from 1970, 71 & 72!