It’s a year until our exhibition Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki opens and we have been working with lots of people who have been part of her numerous careers over the last five decades.
Barbara herself has been incredibly helpful in working closely with us so we are able to tell the story of her life and career. She has been so generous with her time as well as personal items, giving us the story from the inside.
Although Barbara is most well known in England for her iconic and ground-breaking clothes and lifestyle brand Biba of the 1960s and 70s, she has very little which relates to this period of her career. She and her husband dumped everything they owned relating to Biba over the side of a mountain in Brazil in the late 1980s! That, however, has not proved too much of a problem as we have come across some of the most amazing collectors and collections of Biba items. One collector has given almost her entire home over to Biba – including the garden, which has the original toadstool table and chairs from the children’s department of the Big Biba!
We have also been in contact with many of the people who originally worked in the Biba stores – from the earliest days to its last incarnation as the huge Hollywood set that was Big Biba at Derry & Toms. All of them had great stories to tell and items for display. There are also great stories from people who bought items from the numerous Biba stores and who have cherished them for all these years.
After walking out of Biba in the mid-1970s, interior design work seemed a natural progression for Barbara, and she is now an award winning and famous interior designer in the United States. Living and working in Miami, she re-designed some of the most iconic beachfront hotels, breathing new life into the area and the dilapidated art deco buildings.
Barbara’s career really has come full circle and the exhibition will include items from the numerous design projects she has been working on over the past five years, with great items of clothing, fashionable accessories, wallpapers, home furnishings, and with the possibility of a whole host of other products which are on the horizon.
Martin Pel, Curator of Costume & Textiles