In 1964, the original Biba was born, founded by ex-fashion illustrator Barbara Hulanicki, as a small fashion boutique in Abington Road, West London.By the early 1970′s Biba’s popularity had grown to such an extent, it became the first new department store to open in the capital since World War II.Its seven stories sold everything from women’s fashion and accessories, feather boas, soft furnishings, children’s clothing, make-up and accessories to cheekily packaged pet food.All this in a retail space that combined Art Deco, Nouveau, Victoriana and the golden age of Hollywood and was described at the time as a “strange Disney land,” “a dream machine,” and “a fantasy made real.”
At Biba, creativity and freedom reigned supreme. White-lipped, pin-legged shopgirls were instructed never to approach the customers. The phrase “Can I help you?” was banned. And music was always played to the maximum volume. This wasn’t shopping. This was an experience.
By 1975, Biba had been instrumental in transforming London into the most fashionable city in the world. Legions of fans flocked to its Kensington High Street store. Freddie Mercury lounged on its leopard skin sofas. Lou Reed wore its black nail polish. The New York Dolls played a legendary two-night stint in the Rainbow Room upstairs.
But in 1975 the dream ended as the store closed down. As Alwyn Turner wrote, “…[it] fulfilled the rock & roll promise to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse, and is consequently remembered with a fondness almost unique in the world of retail.” via http://sillysidilly.wordpress.com/
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