For many young women in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, Biba was the epitome of style. The label was created by Polish-born designer Barbara Hulanicki and her husband Stephen Fitz-Simon. Biba started in 1963 as a mail order boutique, then moved to London shops of increasing size, culminating in the purchase of Deny and Toms department store in Kensington High Street in 1973. Hulanicki’s designs combined the glamour of early Hollywood style with Art Deco pastiche, and the Biba store’s complementary decor made it one of the most distinctive shops in London. The clothes included body-hugging dresses in muted colours at affordable prices, and glamorous accessories including 1920s and 1930s-style hats and feather boas. Biba’s product range expanded rapidly to include cosmetics in adventurous colours, which were available in the company’s stylish black and gold packaging. The Biba store closed in 1975 and the company’s fortunes declined. The label was relaunched by a new company in 1996 and now features retro-styles which offer an updated Biba look for a new generation.
   See also: designer labels; labels

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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