english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England

Biba

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The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a big fan of Pom Pom Quarterly magazine and their podcast. The Autumn issue was my favourite from last year, but I also really enjoyed the winter issue. Each issue has a theme, and the theme of the winter issue was Biba.

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

I have a bit of a Biba obsession. I love the Biba aesthetic, both the clothing and Hulanicki’s illustrations. Hulanicki’s autobiography is a favourite of mine, I previously reviewed it here.

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

I haven’t included any pictures here from the Biba-inspired issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, since you can see all the patterns on Ravelry. Instead, pictures below are from three books about Biba I borrowed from the library at work (Welcome to Big Biba book by Thomas & Turner; The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel; The Biba Experience).

The Biba Experience book

From a start as a small mail-order clothing company, by the 70s Biba’s product range included not only clothing for women, men and children, but a whole range of other supplies including home furnishings and food.

The Biba Experience book

The Biba Experience book

The Biba Experience book

There are also some Biba-related sewing patterns. Barbara Hulanicki drew the cover art for some Le-Roy sewing patterns (e.g. le-roy 3150, 3051, 3056), and McCall’s released a handful of patterns based on popular Biba designs (e.g. McCall’s 2725, 2747). I’d love to track them down at some point.

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

The Biba Experience book

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

The photos of Big Biba show a totally unique shop. Sadly it closed in 1975, although I believe the roof garden (now private) is still there.

The Biba Experience book

Welcome to Big Biba book, Thomas & Turner

Welcome to Big Biba book, Thomas & Turner

Welcome to Big Biba book, Thomas & Turner

One of these days I’ll get around to sewing a Biba-inspired outfit, and to knitting some of the patterns from the winter issue of Pom Pom. I might start with Nield, which is knit in a nice chunky worsted and has a lovely cable pattern.

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Author: Charlotte

Sewist, crafter & blogger, based in Birmingham, England. I'm spending the year growing and gathering to create natural dyes and enhance my sewing projects. Find me at www.englishgirlathome.com

15 thoughts on “Biba

  1. Wow my family pet Great Dane (who unfortunately passed away last summer) looked just like that shop stand in the last photo – it could have been modelled on him! He had the same white patch on his chest. What a lovely photo!

  2. I’ve just bought the latest Pom Pom (my first!), I love the Callas cardigan/shrug. I really like the Biba aesthetic too, and Art Deco, so this issue is definitely a winner as far as I’m concerned! I love those blue shoes you’ve shown, they’re so cute.

    • Enjoy Pom Pom, I’m looking forward to seeing your makes:) I’m still working my way through the Autumn 2015 issue, but I will get around to making something from the Winter issue eventually! The Winter Amirisu had some great patterns too.

  3. I remember the Biba shop in Corporation st, loved it. Still think about clothes I bought there, a small print short sleeved dress and a cheesecloth lightweight shirt. The shop was so exciting to visit.

  4. I loved the Biba shop and bought a couple of tops from there, the only things I could afford back then.

  5. We loved the big Biba shop in Kensington! It was amazing. I spent quite I lot of my early teens wearing dark green nail polish from there. I just wish I’d kept the posters from my bedroom wall and the one top I managed to buy!

  6. You can still visit the roof-garden – though you have to ring in advance to check that it’s not booked for a private event. It’s free to visit, though. I’ll be going when the weather’s a bit better 🙂

  7. Lovely dresses and it definitely triggered an inspiration for me to make a vintage dress in the coming days! I love visiting vintage dress shops when I get some free time. Not really to buy but to serve as additional resources so I can get inspiration to work on my next project.

  8. Oh I love Biba. I think Hulanicki doesn’t really approve of the new House of Fraser take on the brand, but I really like some of their pieces.

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