Welcome to the last (but not least) name on my favourite vintage designer list – BIBA!
1. Bob Mackie – Extravagant Glamour
2. Frank Usher – Elegance
3. Mary Quant – Innovation
4. Biba – Reinvention
From a ‘humble’ mail order company and boutique in the late 60’s to worldwide fame with an art deco themed flagship store in Kensington dubbed ‘the most beautiful store in the world’, BIBA was a sensation albeit short lived. It was the ‘in’ thing to do to just go shopping and hang out at BIBA, celebrities to working girl fashionistas got their fashion fix there.
Where labels like Mary Quant created and smashed fashion trends, they were still couture, but BIBA brought those styles to the masses, the vintage equivalent or precursor to the ‘highstreet’ stores of today that quickly bring the catwalk to everyday buyers. BIBA’s target market was predominantly under 30’s, the youth and young adult female market that hadn’t really been catered for post-war and hence were hungry for fashion they could call their own. The fabrics and colours were largely what was already in use for older women, but the designs and cuts were decidedly ‘youthful’, though I’ve read they were quite uncomfortable to start, but that didn’t stop the buyers. Later on, in the 70’s, the designs got more flamboyant and colourful but BIBA was known for taking the best of the not so distant past and updating it to make it fabulous again.
BIBA closed its doors in the mid-70’s due to an unsympathetic takeover, but is now available again at House of Fraser.