Barbara Hulanicki may be an unfamiliar name to Australians of my generation but if you were a young Londoner in the 60’s you probably would have visited her iconic fashion store Biba, or yearned to. Locally you may be more familiar with the similar logo of Biba hair salons (though I’m unsure of the connection there.)
Biba was a pioneer of high street fashion (ie. literally on “High Street”). For the first time in the UK young shoppers had a choice of clothes that filled the gap between dressing like kids or dressing like their parents – and it was affordable (though not mass marketed). For better or worse, there may be no Zara or TopShop today if there was no Biba. It was “trendy” in the true sense of the word. “Beyond Biba: A Portrait of Barbara Hulanicki” is a documentary on the designer’s life; from her dramatic childhood, her early fashion illustrations, to store maven, to interior designer in Miami (where I feel her best work was done) and back to London where she now exhibits her delightfully retro new fashion sketches. Luminaries like Twiggy, Kate Moss and Rolling Stones’ Ron Moss pop up throughout.
The documentary is showing as part of ACMI‘s fashion mini-film fest during Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. Called “Fashion Icons on Film” also showing are “Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston”, “Ralph Rucci: a Designer and His House” and “Célébration” a look at Yves Saint Laurent’s final years at YSL (intriguingly banned in France). The films will run several time in the MSFW week starting Saturday 28 August at ACMI in Federation Square. Find out all the details by clicking here.
Image: Vintage fashion illustration by Barbara Hulanicki