MILAN, Feb 16, 2008 / FW/ — Last week in London, Biba, the label that made ready-to-wear hip in the 1960s and finally took London out of the shadow of Paris haute couture houses, made a convincing revival during London Fashion Week. Here in Milan, during the first day of Milano Moda Donna, Sonia Fortuna paid homage to the English brand by sending the signature Biba or Dudu looks – fresh little foals with long legs, bright faces and round dolly eyes.
And while the label Biba in London is staring a renaissance, Sonia Fortuna had reworked the now classic Biba silhouettes as inspired by the Michelangelo Antionioni’s cult movie ‘Blow Up’ starring Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Birkin and Veruschka.
Colorful mini dresses and maxi coats done in cooked wool with fox fur wrists demonstrate the ambivalence of the 1960s youth – non-conformist and conformist, as it was the decade of change. Bell-bottom trousers, romantic shirts and blouses of invisible chiffon, with bows on the collars and wrists is reminiscent of the swinging London era.
And, just for a bit of fashion history, the label Biba, through a combination of mail order, distinctive branding and an understanding of the customer’s dreams, set a template for the ‘lifestyle’ approach that would go on to support British retail successes in the 1980s and ’90s.
Before Biba, many of the ready-to-wear market clothes were either copies of Paris models or deeply influenced by the Paris Haute-Couture collections, aimed for the thirty-something women target market.
Biba’s founder, Barbara Hulanicki, expanded the ‘fashion’ target market by including the teens and twenty-something. In 1964, Biba took an ad at the UK Daily Mirror for a ‘pink gingham dress,’ an outfit with a celebrity appeal, as a similar dress had been worn by Brigitte Bardot.
By the morning after the dress was advertised in the Daily Mirror, it had received over 4,000 orders. Ultimately, some 17,000 outfits were sold. The rest is history.