As I said in last week’s postscript I wasn’t sure whether I would have time to write a post this week, especially as the only one I had in draft and nearly finished was one of my quirky ones which I was really saving for December. Then I realised that as the Biba post had gone down so well regular readers might well appreciate some of the out takes. I always scan more than I need. So this week’s easily digested offering consists of more selections from Welcome to the New Biba and a couple of other items of interest. I’m just adding a few comments.
Another one of those dark-eyed Biba beauties in faux leopard skin, a perennial favourite. (Even if we didn’t say faux in those days). The London Fashion Guide of 1975 had this to say about the big version of Biba:
“Louche”. That’s the word.
The picture below shows that Biba was in the same decade as Laura Ashley.
Biba frequently used original 20s/30s images in their promotional literature, like this one, pointing to the household section:
Welcome to the new Biba presents the household section in this whole page image of the ultimate Biba furnished household inside a classic London mid-Victorian terrace:
Other departments –
The flower shop:
Sweaters, featuring an update of a 1950s pin-up image.
Accessories, and even a bit of habadashery:
And lingerie (imagine a uniformed lift attendant calling out the floors):
Which calls for some more languid laying around. The model is wearing an Edwardian style cotton nightdress, with plenty of the ubiquitous Biba make-up.
Upstairs in the Rainbow Room some even more elegant hanging around.
Biba had also branched out into mail order. This is another familiar image, an advert for Biba’s catalogue. I’m still looking out for a copy.
Finally a small surprise.
Among the ephemera in our collection I found an article from the Lady written by one of Biba’s earliest models, another icon of the 1970s, the actress Madeline Smith. Always a pleasure to see her.
The writer Bevis Hillier described the new Biba in the Derry and Toms building as “turning an art deco masterpiece into a masterpiece of art deco pastiche…(it) will remain a classic monument to 1973”. I can’t improve on that.
As I’ve said I’ve been quite busy this week with The London History Festival. Excellent talks so far by Benet Brandreth, Peter Frankopan, Sarah Gristwood, Dan Snow, Hugh Sebag Montefiore and Michael Jones – only Juliet Barker and Philip Mansel to go. Thanks also to our interviewers – Paul Lay, Sophie Ambler and friend of the festival Roger Moorhouse. And not forgetting my co-director Richard Foreman and from Waterstones, indefatigable booksellers Michael and Lauren. Plus of course the staff and volunteers without whom it couldn’t happen – Isabel, Kim, Tim, Maggie, Veronica, Karen, Sue, Sandeep and Matthew. We’re going to do it all again next year.
So I hope you’ll forgive this relatively slight post. I’ll try and find something more substantial next time.