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4 Fabulous Fashion Exhibitions To See In London – The Gloss Magazine

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Twiggy sits alone in the Rainbow Room of Biba’s Kensington store, 1973. ©Justin de Villeneuve / Iconic Images

The Biba Story, 1964-1975, The Fashion and Textile Museum

Simple shift dresses, glamorous devoré wraps, sequinned bodices, leopard print coats, trouser suits, floppy hats and feather boas all epitomised the “Biba” look, originally created in 1963 by Barbara Hulanicki, who trained first as a fashion illustrator.

“The Biba Story, 1964-1975”, curated by Martin Pel, chronicles how Biba democratised fashion, beginning as a mail order company offering affordable, fashionable clothes before opening key London stores (on Abingdon Road, Church Street and Kensington High Street). These were frequented by teenagers and celebrities alike including Twiggy, Mick Jagger, Pattie Boyd, The Beatles, Cher and Anita Pallenberg, who were all attracted to Biba’s philosophy of accessibility and inclusivity.

The exhibition is spread over several floors; downstairs over 40 outfits reflect the progression from the early mini-skirted Biba girl to the more sensual, vampish look of the Biba woman. Collections of maxi dresses, hacking jackets, trouser suits and bias-cut satin evening dresses reflect Hulanicki’s inspiration – the glamour of 1930s Hollywood and the historic influence of the Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau movements.

Upstairs shows how Biba became the first lifestyle brand – Hulanicki created the first full cosmetic range for black skin – engaging photographers such as Sara Moon and Helmut Newton to work on campaign images for the brand’s highly stylised catalogues, which are now collectors items. The exhibition is a fascinating insight into the brand and Hulanicki’s foresight as a designer. It runs until September 8; www.fashiontextilemuseum.org.

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