VIDEO: style tips from Biba's Barbara Hulanicki

21 April 2009

We've all dreamed about finding the ultimate in fashion treasure – a piece of original Biba – while rummaging through our mother/next door's charity shop hand-me downs. But if it hasn't happened to you so far (us neither) never fear – here's an appropriately 21st-century way to buy into the Biba legend. Barbara Hulanicki, aka the fashion genius who founded the original Biba boutique back in 1964 and who has spent the past few years of her life as a interior designer living in Miami, is set to launch her first ever collection for Topshop next Tuesday (28 April). And, as you'd expect from the woman who pioneered affordable fashion on the British high street, there are plenty of choice pieces: we're predicting the shoulder padded ‘omeba' printed summer dresses will be a sell out, and look out for the teeny tiny grey suede hot pants and matching jacket. Barbara hopes it's the first of many collections for Topshop and told us she's even thinking of launching her own beauty range soon. As for Sir Philip Green's people, they're expecting a sell out as soon as it hits shop floors here and in the New York Topshop store, as the first high-profile launch in the States. So we popped down to Topshop HQ to get Barbara to talk us through the collection and pick her brains about all things fashion. After all, this is the lady who gave American Vogue editor Anna Wintour her first job in the industry (yep, she was a Biba shop assistant back in the day...). Turns out Barbara's hoping one of her most outspoken A-list fans, Kate Moss, will be wearing the Topshop collection (we think that's a safe bet, Barbara) and, less predictably, her favourite designer at the moment is upcoming American, Alexander Wang. Watch Barbara above and see some of the collection below.

Barbara Hulanicki on:

Who she would like to see in her collection: ‘Kate, Kate, Kate...'[That's Moss in case you hadn't guessed!].

Her style icon: ‘Audrey Hepburn's look is timeless. The graphic shape of her face and big eyes means you just can't lose.'

English style: ‘English girls aren't afraid to experiment and be laughed at. They definitely stand out from the crowd.'

Her guilty fashion secret: ‘Wearing black... black everything, clothes, shoes, you name it. And extreme bags, whether huge or very small.'

The return of shoulder pads: ‘They're not like they used to be. They are a lot more dynasty than before and will keep on getting bigger and bigger until we get sick of them. It's a cycle.'

Swimwear: ‘I won a swimwear design competition in 1955 and it's always been something I've loved. There are two '40s-inspired pieces in the collection and there will definitely be more to come.'

That distinctive print in the collection: ‘It started off as a leopard print but over time changed into more of a space age print.'

The designer of the moment: ‘The simplicity of Alexander Wang's designs are amazing and definitely one to watch.'

What she last bought: ‘An Alexander Wang shrunken leather bag and every single weekend newspaper.' She swears on reading every one of them!

barbara barbara barbara

- Lily Russo


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