Biba

Biba

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Biba

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Biba was an iconic and popular London fashion store of the 1960s and 1970s. It was started and primarily run by the Polish-born Barbara Hulanicki with help of her husband Stephen Fitz-Simon.

Early years

Biba's early years were rather humble, with many of the outfits being cheap and available to the public by mail order. Biba’s postal boutique had its first significant success in May 1964 when it offered a pink gingham dress to readers of the Daily Mirror. The dress had celebrity appeal, as a similar dress had been worn by Brigitte Bardot. By the morning after the dress was advertised in the Daily Mirror, it had received over 4,000 orders. Ultimately, some 17,000 outfits were sold.

Stores and mail order services

The first store, in Abingdon Road in Kensington, was opened in September 1964.

Hulanicki’s first encounter with her new customers was at 10 o’clock on the Saturday morning it opened. "...the curtains were drawn across the window… the shop was packed with girls trying on the same brown pinstripe dress in concentrated silence. Not one asked if there were any other styles or sizes," Hulanicki remarked.

The brown pinstripe dresses were being stored in the shop because Hulanicki’s apartment was overflowing with boxes of clothes for their mail order service. Fitz-Simon dropped Hulanicki at the shop and went to pick up more dresses, Hulanicki went to the bathroom and when she came back the shop was packed. "The louder the music played the faster...
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