the biba story at the fashion and textile museum feature image

Discover The Biba Story At The Fashion And Textile Museum

In celebration of a friend’s birthday, I took her to the captivating Biba Exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum on Bermondsey Street in London SE1. Reminiscing about my teenage years, I cherished my vibrant yellow t-shirt adorned with the glittering Biba logo and fondly recalled borrowing my mum’s Biba cosmetics. This exhibition, titled The Biba Story, 1964-1975, delves deep into the iconic brand’s journey. It follows the optimistic years of Barbara Hulanicki and Biba, a brand that transcended fashion to embody an entire lifestyle. If you’re looking for new exhibitions in London, things to do near London Bridge Station or fashion museums, The Biba Story is for you.

the biba story exhibition fashion and textile museum

The Biba Story Exhibition

There’s a big buzz surrounding this exhibition, and Bermondsey Street has been taken over by lovely ladies who were fans of Biba back in the day. It’s a beautiful sight as I stroll along my favourite street, around the corner from my apartment.

the biba brand fashion and textile museum

Step into the enchanting world of Biba at the Fashion and Textile Museum, where The Biba Story unfolds from its inception in 1964 to the closure of the legendary Big Biba in 1975.

the biba story fashion and textile museum colourful clothing

Curated by fashion and textiles expert Martin Pel, the exhibition showcases archival clothing pieces, mainly dresses in bright colours, bold patterns, and a few in black. You’ll also see some original photographs, films and memorabilia personally curated by Barbara Hulanicki. As Hulanicki once remarked, “It isn’t just selling dresses; it’s a whole way of life.”

the biba story fashion and textile museum biba outfit

Originating as a fashion haven in London in the 1960s and 1970s, Biba was the brainchild of the Polish-born Barbara Hulanicki, with support from her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon. Although the original venture shuttered its doors in 1975, Biba’s spirit endured through multiple relaunches, now finding a home under the House of Fraser umbrella as of 2024.

the biba story fashion and textile museum biba cosmetics

Biba’s humble beginnings saw it offering affordable mail-order outfits, including the famed pink gingham dress that garnered immense popularity after catching the eye of Brigitte Bardot. The brand swiftly evolved, establishing its flagship store on Kensington Church Street. With its diverse offerings, spanning from men’s attire to cosmetics and home furnishings, Biba resembled more of a department store.

the biba story fashion and textile museum gingham dress

Under Hulanicki’s creative helm, Biba transcended mere fashion, transforming into a cultural phenomenon. The brand’s move to the iconic Derry & Toms department store on Kensington High Street solidified its status as a tourist attraction, drawing millions of visitors weekly with its innovative floor themes and whimsical displays.

the biba story fashion and textile museum biba clothing

Despite soaring success, financial woes loomed, leading to a pivotal acquisition by Dorothy Perkins and Dennis Day. Creative differences ultimately prompted Hulanicki’s departure in 1975, marking the end of an era for Biba.

the biba story fashion and textile museum biba fashion

The exhibition’s focus on Biba’s positive and formative years was the right approach. It didn’t touch on the several attempts at revival since its closure in 1975 because Barbara Hulanicki was not involved in those unsuccessful reincarnations with Monica Zipper or Bella Freud at the helm.

the biba story fashion and textile museum inside the exhibition

House of Fraser acquired Biba in 2009 for another relaunch, which proved to be successful, outperforming other in-house brands. Despite ongoing reservations from Hulanicki, she later agreed to act as a consultant for Biba in 2014, maintaining its ties with House of Fraser. I’m glad it ends up being a nice story for Barbara Hulanicki.

the biba story fashion and textile museum colourful patterns

The Biba logo is one of the most iconic fashion symbols ever created. John McConnell crafted two iterations of the logo. The initial design, fashioned for Biba’s mail-order catalogues circa 1966, drew upon the ornate lettering of Art Nouveau from the 1890s, infused with elements of Celtic lettering as reimagined by the Liberty style of that era. Later, in 1969, the logo was redesigned, incorporating influences from the sleek Art Deco aesthetic of the 1930s.

Watch My Biba Exhibition Video

Helpful Information About The Biba Story Exhibition

the biba story fashion and textile museum

Take advantage of this exclusive opportunity to explore the captivating world of Biba. Visit the Fashion and Textile Museum website for more information. The exhibition runs from March 22 to September 8, 2024, open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11 am to 6 pm. The museum is at 83 Bermondsey Street, London SEI 3XF, a short walk from London Bridge Station. Secure your ticket in advance, as the exhibition is popular. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop to purchase Biba T-shirts, books and tote bags.

the biba story fashion and textile museum biba book

While there’s no on-site dining, you can pop to the super cute B Street Deli, conveniently located across the road. We ate at José and shared several plates of tapas. There are plenty of excellent eateries on Bermondsey Street:

Cafe Murano Lunch Review

Flour and Grape Restaurant Review

Pizzaro Restaurant Review

Jose Tapas Bar Review

Hakata Ramen Bar Review

The Woolpack Sunday Lunch Review

B Street Deli Review

While you’re in the area, these articles may be of interest:

Ten Things To Do In Bermondsey

Ten Things To Do In Bermondsey Street

Historical Bermondsey Walk

Author: Homegirl London. Pictures: Homegirl London.